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A chronology of key events in the history of Liz Claiborne Inc.


This story first appeared in the March 27, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

  • The company is founded by Liz Claiborne, Art Ortenberg and Leonard Boxer. Their aim is to create a line of flattering, feminine clothes for the increasing number of women entering the workforce. Liz Claiborne is one of the first apparel companies to merchandise clothing as outfits.
  • First-year sales reach $2.1 million.


  • Jerome Chazen joins the company as a partner. The Liz Claiborne line is a hit in department stores across the country. The company starts testing overseas production.
  • $7.4 million in sales


  • Liz Claiborne opens its Hong Kong office.
  • $23.3 million in sales


  • The company continues to grow, moves to a bigger warehouse and takes over an entire floor at 1441 Broadway in New York.
  • $47.6 million in sales


  • The company licenses its accessories division to complement Liz Claiborne apparel.
  • 300 associates; $79.5 million in sales


  • Liz Claiborne goes public, listing on NASDAQ with the symbol LIZ. The petite division is born.
  • $116.8 million in sales


  • The dresses division is launched. As part of its strategy to extend the Liz Claiborne brand into non-apparel, the company starts licensing shoes.
  • $165.7 million in sales


  • The company builds its licensing business with products for the home. The Liz Claiborne line is divided into two divisions: Spectator and Active Sportswear. The first outlet store opens in Secaucus, N.J.
  • 1,000 associates $228.7 million in sales


  • Lizkids girls’ sportswear is launched.

  • $391.3 million in sales


  • Claiborne for men and Lizwear denim-inspired styles are launched. Eyewear and optics for women and men are licensed. Co-founder Leonard Boxer retires. A joint venture with Avon creates Liz Claiborne Fragrances. The company achieves Fortune 500 status, the first company founded by a woman to do so.
  • 2,100 associates; $556.6 million in sales


  • The Spectator division is renamed Collection. The HQ1 office in North Bergen, N.J., opens.
  • 3,000 associates; $813.5 million in sales


  • Dana Buchman, a designer for Liz Claiborne, launches her own label, marking the company’s entrance into the bridge market. Claiborne men’s wear adds furnishings (dress shirts, ties, etc). Lizkids is phased out. “Project Consumer” begins with the creation of “in-store specialists.” The first Liz Claiborne in-store shop opens at Jordan Marsh in Boston.
  • 3,400 associates; $1.05 billion in sales


  • The company’s first specialty store, First Issue, opens at the Americana in Manhasset, N.Y. Liz Claiborne clothes are sold in Canada. The cosmetics division is brought in-house.
  • $1.18 billion in sales


  • Company founders Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg retire. Jerome Chazen becomes chairman. Liz & Co. knitwear and Elisabeth women’s sizes are launched. The first five Liz Claiborne and two Claiborne brand stores open. The cosmetics division introduces Claiborne for Men fragrance. Offices open in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, China, the Philippines and Costa Rica to monitor overseas production. A Mount Pocono, Pa., warehouse opens.
  • 5,000+ associates; $1.4 billion in sales


  • Liz Claiborne Jewelry is launched. The shoe license is terminated and an in-house division is set up.
  • 6,000+ associates; $1.7 billion in sales


  • Liz Claiborne is launched in the United Kingdom and Spain. Liz Claiborne Inc. shares begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The Women’s Work program is founded to raise public awareness of domestic violence. The company now has 27 outlet stores.
  • 7,000+ associates; $2 billion in sales


  • The company acquires the Russ Togs, Villager and Crazy Horse brands. Bodywear is added to the accessories portfolio. Dana Buchman introduces petites and dresses. The first Elisabeth store opens in Tysons Corner Mall in McLean, Va.
  • $2.2 billion in sales


  • A poor retail environment and blurred distinctions among divisions lead to excess inventory. Net income drops by 42 percent. The company initiates cycle-time reduction efforts. An Alabama distribution center opens. Liz product is sold in more than 40 countries.
  • 8,700 associates; $2.2 billion in sales


  • The dresses division expands its offerings with Liznight special occasion dressing. Watches are launched. The Dana Buchman Store opens at 57th Street in Manhattan. Paul R. Charron joins Liz Claiborne Inc. as vice chairman and chief operating officer and lays out his plan for transforming the company. The company acknowledges that consumers and markets changed faster than it did.
  • $2.16 billion in sales; Seven brands


  • Liz at Home is launched. Shoes are licensed to LC Footwear. First Issue stores are phased out. The company conducts extensive consumer research to better understand the Nineties woman and her wardrobe needs. The Times Square billboard goes up. It is the largest outdoor sign in the world.
  • $2.08 billion in sales


  • Paul Charron becomes chairman and ceo when Jerry Chazen retires from active management. The fragrance Curve makes its debut. Watches becomes a licensee. The men’s wear line expands with Claiborne Sport performance apparel. Dana B. and Karen, a line of casual clothes for the bridge consumer, is created. Emma James relaxed career and casual apparel at value prices is launched.

  • $2.22 billion in sales; 10 brands


  • Creating a multibrand, multichannel, multiregion portfolio becomes the core of Liz Claiborne Inc.’s business strategy. The company joins the White House Apparel Industry Partnership to create industry standards for workplace codes of conduct and monitoring programs. More than 450 LizView shops open, including 13,000 square feet of casual and Collection merchandise in Macy’s Herald Square. The company licenses DKNY Jeans and Active brands from Donna Karan International. Claiborne also joins with J.C. Penney to announce the relaunch of the Crazy Horse label, and separately announces the acquisition of the J.H. Collectibles trademark.
  • $2.41 billion in sales; 12 brands


  • The Liz Claiborne brand Web site,, launches as an information/branding destination. The company licenses women’s apparel under the Kenneth Cole New York and Reaction Kenneth Cole brands from Kenneth Cole Productions. Claiborne men’s wear takes its “Claiborne Changing Room” on the road, bringing a fixtured, 35-foot trailer and style squad of fashion consultants to department stores and major corporations around the country, urging men to embrace fashion and providing fashionable dressing options.
  • $2.54 billion in sales; 14 brands


  • Liz Claiborne Inc. continues to invest in its portfolio strategy, acquiring Laundry by Shelli Segal, Lucky Brand Jeans and Sigrid Olsen.
  • $2.8 billion in sales; 20 brands


  • Monet (including the Monet, Monet 2, Marvella and Trifari brands) is acquired. The company enters a licensing agreement with Donna Karan International to produce and market City DKNY apparel, a New York-inspired, better collection balancing fashion, function, comfort and affordability by updating tried-and-true classics with modern trends. The Liz Claiborne brand Web site is relaunched as an e-commerce destination.
  • $ 3.104 billion in sales; 25 brands


  • Liz Claiborne Inc. continues to expand its portfolio of brands and geographic reach through the acquisition of Mexx, a contemporary European apparel brand for women, men and children that is sold via wholesale and retail formats in more than 40 countries in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, as well as the U.S. and Canada.

  • $3.45 billion in sales; 28 brands


  • The company launches Axcess, a line of modern, value-priced clothing for women and men, and acquires Ellen Tracy, a leading bridge collection.
  • $3.72 billion in sales; 30 brands.


  • Liz Claiborne Inc. makes a strong push into the contemporary apparel market with the acquisitions of Juicy Couture, sexy, luxurious basics for the casual lifestyle, and Enyce, a line of young, hip streetwear. The company launches J.H. Collectibles, a moderate collection focusing on feminine, soft dressing, and agrees to produce jewelry under the Kenneth Cole New York brand.
  • $4.24 billion in sales; 35 brands


  • Claiborne introduces Intuitions, a better-priced apparel line that targets younger consumers with feminine, on-trend sportswear. It also expands its relationship with Kenneth Cole, agreeing to produce jewelry under the Reaction Kenneth Cole label.
  • $4.63 billion in sales; 37 brands


  • Nine new names target consumers with widely varying tastes and shopping habits. Standouts are City Unltd., a collection of related separates; Tapemeasure, a women’s line with an emphasis on color and eclectic details; Tint, denim-inspired dressing with a vintage feel, and Yzza, stores and apparel in Canada for women 35 and up. The company acquires prAna, a line of apparel and accessories that combines technical features for performance with style and comfort.
  • $4.85 billion in sales; 40 brands


  • Claiborne acquires the Mac & Jac, Kenzie and Kenziegirl brands. Paul Charron announces he will retire as chairman and ceo at the end of 2006. The board begins a search among internal and external candidates for his successor. Trudy Sullivan is named president of Liz Claiborne Inc.

Source: Liz Claiborne Inc.

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