Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK — To speed communications between about 250 mills, factories and offices around the Pacific Rim and its corporate headquarters, Liz Claiborne is implementing a new regional networking infrastructure for electronic commerce and e-mail.
It’s Claiborne’s latest push on the technology front and part of the fashion firm’s two-year-old reengineering to update merchandise, keep on top of trends, introduce new in-store shops and marketing strategies to spur sales, and shorten business cycles.
The system is being supplied by Infonet.
The new network is geared to more effectively disseminate and process information to employees, suppliers and distributors.
Claiborne outsources all of its manufacturing, using mills and factories all over the world. “The network has not only helped us achieve our initial goal — managing the design, specification, implementation and maintenance of our network — but it is also enhancing our internal communication,” said Harry Chan, Claiborne’s internetwork engineer, in a statement.
With Hong Kong serving as Claiborne’s Pacific Rim hub, remote offices throughout Asia can communicate with each other as well as with suppliers and Claiborne’s offices in North Bergen, N.J., 24 hours a day, every day.
Key locations where the new system is being installed include Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, China and Sri Lanka.
Infonet, based in El Segundo, Calif., is a 26-year-old data communications provider.
Its primary purpose is to help clients move information.
It typically works for large, global 500 companies.
In addition to Claiborne, Infonet has other apparel clients, including Donna Karan.
The Infonet system is replacing a data communications system Claiborne has had since 1991.
The system will eliminate much of the phone calling, FedEx-ing and faxing done in the past.
It enables products to be examined in real time, and will provide Claiborne with the ability to communicate instantaneously information on inventory management as well as the instructions that are required to develop products, including sourcing, price data, sketches, pattern specifications and other information on production.
Infonet is establishing for Claiborne a frame relay network, a combination of a Local Area and Wide Area Network that carries communications and keeps them private.
Infonet operates in 57 countries, which was a key reason why Claiborne chose that company.
“The goal behind the new network initiative is to better control Claiborne’s ability to distribute the appropriate inventory and information on inventory when and where it is needed,” according to an Infonet executive.
“It’s an advanced inventory and distribution control system. Eventually, Claiborne will do some designing on it, too. It’s like their0 private Internet, or an Intranet.”
The executive added, “Claiborne had a need to communicate — in a closed environment.”