NEW YORK — Liz Claiborne Inc. is collaborating with 7th Online — and has signed up Federated Department Stores, Saks Inc. and May Department Stores Co. to implement a technology platform called Collaborate that it began testing at Macy’s East last September.

Claiborne will use the assortment planning platform to do business, in the Liz Claiborne flagship brand and the new Realities label, and talks are under way to extend it to retailers of Claiborne’s special market brands, John Sullivan, senior vice president of systems and service and chief information officer at Liz Claiborne Inc., told WWD in an exclusive interview Wednesday. He did not specify the specialty-market retailers with which Claiborne is speaking. Department store brand Emma James; Crazy Horse, sold at J.C. Penney, and Axcess, available at Kohl’s and Mervyn’s, are among the brands in Claiborne’s specialty-market group.

Future Claiborne brands also will implement the Collaborate technology, as they are added to the group’s 32-label portfolio.

The venture reflects the culmination of a pilot program begun by Claiborne, 7th Online and Macy’s East and expanded across Federated Department Stores over the past year. Claiborne has deployed Collaborate within its own LizPlanning micromerchandising application.

Seventh Avenue giant Claiborne is adapting 7th Online’s Collaborate technology in a bid to streamline its assortment planning and enhance its ability to micromerchandise specific stores. The goal: to free up time now spent on financial calculations to consider fashion products and assortments.

Typically, vendors and retailers view products and plan assortments during market periods, when they examine apparel items. The Collaborate platform enables merchants to see such goods online, ahead of market times, and shave approximately two or three weeks off the planning process, estimated Jonathan Wolfson, vice president of business development and finance at 7th Online. As a result, buys formerly made six or seven weeks after a market could be completed less than a month later.

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