NEW YORK — Howard Socol has a new hat to wear.

The chairman, president and chief executive officer of Barneys New York was elected as a member of Liz Claiborne Inc.’s board, the firm said Wednesday. Socol, whose initial term expires at Claiborne’s 2005 annual meeting, brings the board’s number to 10.

“Howard’s retail experience parallels the Liz Claiborne Inc. brand portfolio by encompassing a wide spectrum of distribution channels and consumer style preferences,” chairman and ceo Paul Charron said in a statement.

Prior to captaining Barneys, Socol was ceo of retailer and direct merchant J. Crew Group Inc. He started his career in 1969 at Burdines, a division of Federated Department Stores, where he ascended to the position of ceo in 1984.

“His distinguished career in the retail sector makes him an excellent resource for the company and stockholders,” Charron said. “Howard will be a tremendous asset as we continue to pursue our multibrand, multichannel portfolio strategy.”

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