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Liz Hires Converse’s McTague as EVP of Partnered Brands

Less than two weeks after president Trudy Sullivan announced her departure, Liz Claiborne Inc. has named David McTague, president of Converse Apparel at Nike Inc., to be executive vice president of its new partnered brands division.

Less than two weeks after president Trudy Sullivan announced her departure, Liz Claiborne Inc. has named David McTague, president of Converse Apparel at Nike Inc., to be executive vice president of its new partnered brands division.

“This is a merchant hire,” said chief executive officer William L. McComb. “He’s a very savvy merchant — what I know we needed here.”

McTague, 45, expanded the Converse footwear line, an estimated $250 million division of Nike, into a global lifestyle brand that was partners with John Varvatos for a premium apparel launch last fall. Before joining Converse in 2005, McTague was president of global apparel and retail at Victorinox, focused on the Swiss Army brand, for 15 months. He did two stints at Tommy Hilfiger, first from 1994 to 1998 as executive vice president of sales and planning, and then from 2000 to 2004 as president of men’s wear.

“I liked that he was at Tommy on the way up and on the way down; that they brought him back when it was fix-it time,” McComb said.

McComb said a retail client referred McTague to him, and that McTague’s retail relationships — with traditional department stores, midtier stores and, specifically, Target — were a big plus. Starting in August, McTague will report to McComb.

McTague will lead Claiborne’s “customer-focused, cost-efficient partnered brands division,” which includes the Liz Claiborne family of brands (Axcess, Claiborne, Concepts by Claiborne, Liz Claiborne, Liz & Co. and Villager), the DKNY Jeans group, the Monet family of brands and the cosmetics family of brands. Sixteen other brands under his watch — including C&C California, Dana Buchman, Ellen Tracy, Prana and Enyce — are under review, according to a source close to the company.

McComb announced the split between partnered brands and direct brands, like Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand, on June 20, when he also promoted Jill Granoff to executive vice president of direct brands, and put Sullivan — still president — in charge of the partnered brands. McTague takes over most of Sullivan’s responsibilities, minus global business like Mexx, led by Jeff Fardell, who reported to Sullivan in the reorganization, but now will report to McComb. The title of president was eliminated when Sullivan left to become president and ceo at Talbots Inc.

“The search has been going on for a few months and would have happened even if Trudy hadn’t left,” McComb said. “Trudy is a loss to the company.”