NEW YORK — Liz Claiborne Inc. is now Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc. and William L. McComb, its chief executive officer, is on the offensive.
Gone is the apparel manufacturer that put a generation of working women in pantsuits and grew into a portfolio-centric company with more than 30 brands. The Liz Claiborne brand was sold to J.C. Penney Co. Inc. last year while a majority of the ailing Mexx division was spun off along with a number of other assets, and the proceeds were used to cut the company’s debt load to $317 million from $698 million just over a year ago. The changes sparked the name change, which was revealed in January and will be made official today when the company’s stock will start trading under the ticker FNP.
Now the company revolves around Kate Spade, Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand — three brands that were bought with free cash flow provided by the Liz Claiborne business. The brands have grown into retailers in their own right, with domestic wholesale revenues accounting for only 10 to 15 percent of their U.S. top line.
“These businesses are in what I would call true start-up mode,” said a relaxed and upbeat McComb in an interview Monday. “There’s a tremendous amount of entrepreneurship in the businesses. The culture is these are hard-working, lean, fast-moving and superinnovative teams. They’ve inventing as they go along. They’re not running the bases of well-established processes in a big machine that’s been humming and running smoothly. They’re, all three, hungry, scrappy start-ups. We have three simultaneously early-stage companies.”
McComb finally seems to have positioned the company to his liking.
“The last six months have been very different,” the ceo said, a Fifth & Pacific logo spinning behind him on his desktop screen saver. “The best way to express it is a shift from being 75 percent defense to 75 percent offense.”
Kate Spade, with comparable sales per square foot at $989 for the past 12 months, is charging ahead, as Lucky Brand found its footing with sales of $448 a square foot.
New Juicy Couture product was introduced this year, the brand’s sales are at $661 a square foot and McComb said the business is about a year behind Lucky in its reinvention.
Like everyone else in the industry, McComb has taken note of Michael Kors Holdings Ltd.’s initial public offering and its market capitalization of $7.75 billion and said his company can grab a bigger part of the booming handbag business.
“[The consumer’s] putting more of her apparel and accessories dollars into what I would call ‘investment-grade handbags,’” McComb said. “I think it has another five- to 10-year run in it. I see all ships rising with the growth of fast-growing brands like Kate and Michael Kors. I think you’ll see Juicy stake out some really nice territory there over the next two to three years.”
The sweet spot for the investment-grade handbag is the $298 to $498 price range, he said.
McComb said Fifth & Pacific’s results would ultimately speak for themselves.
“There were some tough times,” he admitted of his tenure. “I’ve never minded being underestimated. I would much rather be the underdog in a situation or to be discounted and misunderstood.…It’s very important that as a lead of a company that you lean into a future, that you actually are driving an organization toward something and not from something.”
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)