Isaac Mizrahi Leaving Target For Liz Claiborne

Posted on January 16, 2008

Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi is leaving Target Corp. and has accepted an offer to design for Liz Claiborne. Isaac will be the creative director for all of the better-priced women's Liz Claiborne brand,
William L. McComb, chief executive officer of the $4.99 billion Liz Claiborne Inc., told WWD that the "long-term" deal the brainchild of Dave McTague, executive vice president of partnered brands for Liz Claiborne Inc. has been in the works for months.

"Dave walked in the door with a charter to fill the emotional vacuum of the brand," McComb said. "Liz Claiborne is an extremely well-known, well-regarded brand that failed to deliver on the core values that made it great in the first place: color, fit, value and style. The turning point was when Liz Claiborne died [in June], and we got lots of calls and letters from consumers who didn't know she hadn't been working here since 1989."

Claiborne is hopeful that Mizrahi can bring his fashion wit and color sense to the struggling women's collection. Mizrahi's appointment follows Monday's announcement that John Bartlett will design the Claiborne men's sportswear line, under the label Claiborne by John Bartlett, also launching for spring 2009. Unlike the men's line, the core Liz Claiborne collection will not be called Liz Claiborne by Isaac Mizrahi, though his association with the brand will be clear on the labels.

"Isaac is an international icon," McTague said. "He not only knows this woman, he adores her. His core values are so perfectly aligned with our core brand: fit, color, comfort, value, fun and a uniquely American brand."
Isaac will join chief creative officer Tim Gunn in being very visible in nationwide promotions on television and in department stores. Isaac's new job will begin in spring 2009. You just know that Target execs are not happy. But it's nothing but good news for the Liza Claiborne brand which appears ready to make a comeback in sales and visibility.