Liz Claiborne, Art Ortenberg, Leonard Boxer & Jerome Chazen
Liz Claiborne Inc.
Founded in 1976 by Liz Claiborne, Art Ortenberg, Leonard Boxer and Jerome Chazen, it was an immediate success with sales of $2 million in 1976 and $23 million in 1978. Liz Claiborne Inc. went public in 1981 and had made the Fortune 500 in 1986 ten years after it was founded with retail sales of $1.2 billion.
The phenomenal growth of Liz Claiborne Inc. was spurred on by diversification from the two original basic lines—active sportswear and a slightly dressier collection—to include a dress division in 1982 and a unit for shoes in 1983. In 1985 the company acquired the Kaiser-Roth Corporation, which had been a licensee producing accessories, including handbags, scarves, belts, and hats.
By 1988 it had acquired one-third of the American women's upscale sportswear market. It was the first company founded by a woman to be listed in the Fortune 500. Founder Leonard Boxer retired in 1985, and in 1989, Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg also retired from active management. Jerry Chazen, the fourth original partner, became the company's Chairman in 1989 and held that role until 2006.
Liz Claiborne Inc. designs and markets an extensive range of branded women's and men's apparel, accessories and fragrance products. The diverse portfolio of quality brands - available domestically and internationally via wholesale and retail channels - consistently meets the widest range of consumers’ fashion needs, from classic to contemporary, active to relaxed and denim to streetwear.
In 1999, Liz Claiborne, Inc. acquired 85% of Lucky Brand Jeans. In 2001, they would acquire Mexx and in 2003 they would buy another large fashion company, Juicy Couture.
Liz Claiborne also continued to expand internationally. Its first retail outlet on London's Regent Street was opened in 2000 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the company's presence in Europe. Future growth leaned toward Europe and Canada but company executives were eyeing Latin America, especially Mexico, where sales had been strong.
In 2006, the company generated sales of nearly $5 billion. The company sells directly to customers throughout the world through 399 specialty retail formats, 625 concessions, 336 outlet and 13 e-commerce sites. The company's brands are available at more than 30,000 different retail locations throughout the world. As of 2006, Liz Claiborne employed more than 17,000 people worldwide.
On October 16, 2006, Liz Claiborne Inc. named William McComb, Chief Executive Officer. In February 2007, Liz Claiborne Inc. named Tim Gunn, formerly Chair of Fashion Design at Parsons The New School for Design, Chief Creative Officer.
Claiborne passed away on Tuesday June 26, 2007 at the age of 78. She died after a several year struggle with cancer.
After her death in June 2007, Ms. Claiborne's product sales have increased. The prices on her clothing have been reduced in price, and more of her clothes were sold.
Liz Claiborne Inc. operates the following business segments: Wholesale Apparel, Wholesale Non-Apparel and Retail. In addition, the Company licenses to third parties the right to manufacture, market and sell at wholesale selected products bearing the Company's trademarks.