Photo Credit: people.com

 Back in the 80s my Mom used to wear a lot of Liz Claiborne.  She was a groundbreaking designer in the day, with her bright matching separates for professional women.  Liz's favourite colour was red and her collections showed her love of colour.    She was the first woman to head a company to join the Fortune 500.  I used to borrow my Mom's clothes all the time.  In the 90s when I started to work in the advertising business I bought a few pieces of my own.  To me her line had practical outfits for  professional women.   

As I have become more mature I would have assumed I would have grown into my own Liz Claiborne  collections. But they didn't seem to change with the times.   I wanted great pieces, that I could mix and match.  Not matching separates.  So their clothes became less relevant for me.  So I went to their competitors.  My Mom slowly did the same for her own reasons.  

This week it has become clear that the current Executives at Liz Claiborne really have lost their way with this iconic brand.   The brand has now essentially been taken over by JC Penney.  And in Canada it has been licensed to the Trimera Group.    

Two years ago they tried to do an about-face to re-brand Liz Claiborne as a young brand. Isaac Mizrahi was brought in to design the brand.  From what the Wall Street Journal has to say it sounds like the Isaac experiment was expensive and not very successful (likely costing them Macy's as a customer).   I do know that the Issac line at least had some energy and colour.  Unlike the new JC Penney line which is drab and really rather lacklustre.   

So what happened?  I think they failed to stay relevant to their core customer as they aged. At the same time they failed to lure the next generation as they matured into professional women.  The company says that older women just aren't spending on their clothes. And I admit there are some years for those women who have children when we may live in "mom" jeans.  But we still love style and are willing to spend for the items that speak to us and fit our lifestyle.  

It pains me greatly because I love the Liz Claiborne Creative Director Tim Gunn. Now obviously I just know Tim from his TV persona.  But he appears to understand what is relevant in style and for different target audiences.  So it even sadder for me to see them sink to this level.   I think that Macy's made the right move in walking away from the brand.  

What about you?  Did you ever wear Liz Claiborne - either your own or borrowed from your mom?

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