Liz Claiborne Inks Exclusive Deals With Penney's, QVC

Posted on October 9, 2009

Liz Claiborne is leaving Macy's. The troubled fashion line has inked an exclusive deal with J.C. Penney. The deal is for ten years and Penney's can buy the Claiborne line after five years. Isaac Mizrahi's line will be sold exclusively at QVC. Essentially the higher end, more fashion forward line will be on QVC and the lower end line will be at Penney's.

Macy's chief merchandising officer was surprisingly snippy when commenting about the end of the Liz Claiborne/Macy's partnership.
Macy's, for one, is not sorry to see the Liz Claiborne brand go. "The brand has not been performing for us," said Jeff Gennette, chief merchandising officer at Macy's, which carries the brand in 220 of its 810 doors. "We always look at underperforming locations and we were doing that with Liz in both the petite and the misses' areas. That's really been the trajectory over the years. We have been paring it down and the brand continues to underperform its competitors." Gennette noted some changes in the Mizrahi-designed offerings this year, but said the brand continued to be a laggard. "There's no brand out there that, if the product is not right, is going to do well," he said. "It depends on the design talent at those wholesale partners."

To compete, he said wholesalers also have to work to get fashions to the stores as quickly as possible. "You have to have your pipeline shortened and you have to be able to react in season," Gennette said. "The ones that are figuring that out are the winners."
Don't hold back, Jeff, tell us how you really feel. Apparently, Liz Claiborne couldn't get product into the stores fast enough and despite Isaac Mizrahi's designs and Tim Gunn doing personal appearances, the Claiborne sales figures just didn't do what they were expected to. Sales were up, as was brand awareness. And with the recession upon us, it was a terrible time to launch Isaac's line. So now he's at QVC and the rest of the line is at Penney's. They can spin this all they want, but this is a step down for the brand. The markets liked it, though: Claiborne is stock is up a bit.