Liz Claiborne (fashion designer)
|Liz Claiborne (fashion designer)|
|Born||Anne Elisabeth Jane Claiborne
March 31, 1929
|Died||June 26, 2007
New York City, New York, USA
Anne Elisabeth Jane "Liz" Claiborne (March 31, 1929 – June 26, 2007) was a Belgian-born American fashion designer and entrepreneur. Claiborne is best known for co-founding Liz Claiborne Inc., which in 1986 became the first company founded by a woman to make the Fortune 500 list. Claiborne was the first woman to become chair and CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Early life and education
In 1949, she won the Jacques Heim National Design Contest (sponsored by Harper's Bazaar), and then moved to Manhattan where she worked for years in the Garment District on Seventh Avenue, as a sketch artist at the sportswear house, Tina Leser. She worked as a designer for Dan Keller and Youth Group Inc.
Liz Claiborne Inc.
Claiborne became frustrated by the failure of the companies that employed her, to provide clothes for working women and, with Art Ortenberg, Leonard Boxer, and Jerome Chazen, launched her own design company, Liz Claiborne Inc., in 1976. It was an immediate success, with sales of $2 million in 1976 and $23 million in 1978. By 1988, it had acquired one-third of the American women's upscale sportswear market.
Marketing strategies she developed changed the nature of retail stores forever. Insisting that her line of clothing be displayed separately, as a department to itself and including all of the items she offered. This was the first time customers were able to select many types of clothing articles by brand name alone in one location of a department store. That tradition for the grouping of special brands has become the typical arrangement for name brands in contemporary stores.
In 1980, Liz Claiborne Accessories was founded through employee Nina McLemore (who decades later would launch a label of her own, in 2001). Liz Claiborne Inc. went public in 1981 and made the Fortune 500 list in 1986 with retail sales of $1.2 billion.
Claiborne listed all employees in her corporate directory in alphabetical order, to circumvent what she perceived as male hierarchies. She controlled meetings by ringing a glass bell and became famous for her love of red—"Liz Red." She sometimes would pose as a saleswoman to see what average women thought of her clothes.
Retirement and death
Liz Claiborne retired from active management in 1989. By that stage, she had acquired other companies, notably Kayser-Roth, which produced Liz Claiborne accessories. Her husband retired at the same time, leaving the other founders as the active managers.
In retirement, Claiborne and Ortenberg established a foundation that distributed millions in funding to environmental causes, including funding the television series Nature on PBS  and nature conservancy projects around the world.
She had been advised in May 1998 that she had a rare form of cancer affecting the lining of the abdomen. Liz Claiborne died on June 26, 2007 at the age of 78, following a long battle with the cancer.
Jerome Chazen became the company's Chairman in 1989 and held that role until 1996, when Paul Charron became Chairman and C.E.O. and held that position until 2006. On May 15, 2012, Liz Claiborne Inc. officially became Fifth & Pacific, Inc., shifted focus, launched new brands, and began marketing directly to customers. The original brand was sold.
- Bernstein, Adam (June 28, 2007). "Liz Claiborne, 78; Fashion Industry Icon". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "Liz Claiborne, 78, an American fashion designer who built a billion-dollar apparel enterprise by clothing career women in stylish but casual outfits at moderate prices, died June 26 at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She had cancer. With the backing of a handful of investors, she and her second husband, design executive Arthur Ortenberg, formed Liz Claiborne Inc. in 1976. An immediate hit, the business broke within a decade into Fortune magazine's list of the 500 largest companies in the United States. Her company was the first started by a woman to make the prestigious list."
- MADE L&C Pioneer Awards
- "Liz Claiborne". The Economist. July 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-18. "Almost every woman knows the feeling. You get into the lift, and a very important woman in your office enters after you, talking to a very important man. She is impeccable, from polished court shoes to understated earrings. You are not. You are wearing trainers, because you want to be comfortable on city pavements, and a blouse that doesn't quite match the skirt because the one that matched better was too grubby round the neck when you went to find it. Nothing is ironed, and there is a faint stain on the skirt that is yesterday's lunchtime soup ineffectually rubbed off with a Kleenex."
- Business Leader Profiles for Students. Ed. Sheila Dow. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2002. p150-153. 2 vols. "Liz Claiborne"
- Lockwood, Lisa (4 February 2014). "Arthur Ortenberg Dies". WWD. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- Brinkley, Christina, Women in Power Know Nina, Label Looks Commanding but Doesn't Grab the Spotlight, Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2014
- Wilson, Eric (June 27, 2007). "Liz Claiborne, Designer, Dies at 78". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "Liz Claiborne, the designer of indefatigable career clothes for professional women entering the workforce en masse beginning in the 1970s, died Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 78. Her death, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, was caused by complications of cancer, said Arthur Ortenberg, her husband. Ms. Claiborne learned in 1997 that she had a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the abdomen."
- "Sportswear designer Liz Claiborne dead at 78". Reuters. June 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "Apparel designer Liz Claiborne, who founded a namesake women's sportswear label that grew into a multibillion dollar global empire, has died at age 78, the company said on Wednesday. Claiborne was ailing from cancer and died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Tuesday, her assistant told Reuters."
- Liz Claiborne Website
- Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation
- Liz Claiborne (fashion designer) at the Fashion Model Directory