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Liz Claiborne Beefs Up Dress Strategy

NEW YORK -- Looking to expand its coverage in stores and regain some market share in dresses, Liz Claiborne has added a third collection to its dress division.<BR><BR>Sold under the Liz Now label, the new line will be launched in January for early...

NEW YORK — Looking to expand its coverage in stores and regain some market share in dresses, Liz Claiborne has added a third collection to its dress division.

Sold under the Liz Now label, the new line will be launched in January for early spring retailing, said Harriet Mosson, president of the Dress and Suit division at Claiborne. Mosson said Liz Now is the third stage of a refocusing of the dress division, a strategy she began after becoming president of the division in 1992.

For the holiday line, which is just beginning to hit the stores, the company split dresses into labels called Liz Claiborne Night and Liz Claiborne Dresses. The Night line features evening and social-occasion dresses, while Dresses concentrates on career and day-to-dinner looks.

Mosson said Liz Now has a contemporary theme that focuses on more casual, relaxed and softer looks than the Dresses label and is aimed at women either outside the more dressy urban environment or with a lifestyle calling for less structured clothes.

In that vein, Mosson feels there are looks in the Liz Now line that are appropriate for career wear, day-to-dinner or weekend social occasion.

“What we saw was a real opportunity to do a collection that was very focused on a specific need, while allowing Dresses to maintain its identity,” Mosson said. “That was the same mentality we used when introducing the Night collection.”

She said volume from Liz Now shouldn’t take away from Dresses, since that line is usually bought by “our own buyer” with a specific open-to-buy, while Liz Now is expected to be purchased by better and contemporary dress buyers as part of an overall department’s open-to-buy.

Wholesaling for $60 to $80, the same price range as Dresses, Liz Now’s early spring line features fabrics such as rayon prints, salt washed linen, striped linen, polyester prints, rayon georgette and rayon and acetate crinkle.

The line features more long than short lengths, Mosson said, in looks such as Empires, apron dresses, a long column scoop neck with ruffle sleeve, a mock-culotte, crystal-pleat skirt dresses, button-front jumpers and long shirt dresses.