Liz Claiborne: American Fashion Designer
Liz Claiborne became dissatisfied with the inability of companies she worked for to offer practical clothes for working women, so in 1976 she started her own design company which soon became an immediate success, dominating one-third of American women’s upscale sportswear market by 1988.
Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg retired from active participation in their company in 1989, later creating the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation to focus on environmental and charitable matters.
Liz Claiborne’s Biography
Anne Elisabeth Claiborne was born in Brussels, Belgium on March 31st, 1929 to Omer Villere and Louise Carol Claiborne who were both American citizens from New Orleans, Louisiana. For the first ten years of her life, she spent in Europe learning French before English from her banker father; museums and cathedrals throughout Europe exposed her to art for further enrichment; her mother taught sewing while emphasizing personal appearance – these early influences helped Claiborne understand how women project themselves into society and achieve success through personal endeavors.
After traveling extensively, her family returned to the US. Although her Roman Catholic family opposed her decision to pursue fashion design as a career choice, she won an impressive fashion drawing contest sponsored by Harper’s Bazaar magazine that allowed her to move to New York City – fashion’s capital of the United States – and launch her design career there.
In 1950 she began work as both a design assistant and then chief designer for Youth Guild Jonathan Logan’s junior dress manufacturer, earning herself an esteemed reputation as an innovative clothing design for women.
Liz Claiborne recognized that many young women entering the workplace would require comfortable, professional clothes at reasonable prices. Her company designed a line of casual separates based on color-coordinated designs; this proved hugely popular and quickly became the foundation of Claiborne’s business empire.
Claiborne revolutionized retail fashion and the way women shop for clothes. Alongside her clothing lines, she launched numerous companies focused on healthy living. Additionally, she founded the Liz Claiborne Foundation – a non-profit that oversees her company’s charitable activities such as supporting educational institutions, health care groups, and arts groups as well as programs dedicated to domestic violence prevention; employee donations in these areas were matched through this foundation – garnering critical acclaim and widespread admiration of its efforts.
Liz Claiborne’s Education
Liz Claiborne was born Anne Elisabeth Jane Claiborne on March 31st, 1929 to an influential American family (she was descended from Louisiana’s first governor), where she received an exceptional education that instilled personal responsibility into her. Traveling extensively with both parents and becoming fluent in French. When World War II broke out she returned home voluntarily; though never earning her high school diploma she did win an art contest organized by Harper’s Bazaar magazine and secured employment with an esteemed women’s clothing manufacturer.
Liz Claiborne recognized a need for more comfortable clothes for working women during this period and proposed creating a line of mix-and-match clothing with soft yet easy fabrics, markedly different than the sexy and feminine blouses and bow tie dresses common at that time. Unfortunately, her employer could not understand or accept Liz Claiborne’s vision and refused to take it seriously; as a result, she decided to leave Jonathan Logan and establish Liz Claiborne Inc in 1975.
Claiborne’s company quickly expanded to one of the most successful in America, reaching annual revenues exceeding $560 million by 1990. She established the Liz Claiborne Foundation during this time to oversee charitable activities within her company and launch domestic violence prevention programs such as Women’s Work. Additionally, it supports environmental projects through Wilderness Society membership and other means.
Liz Claiborne had an exceptional understanding of business and marketing in addition to her design abilities. She understood that, to succeed, she must compete against many women’s clothing brands – so to attract customers she decided on diversifying her product lines by adding six lines annually instead of the traditional four. Furthermore, her clothing stores were set up so customers could arrange outfits themselves without the assistance of salespersons.
Liz Claiborne died in 1996 with an estimated net worth of over $1.3 billion and employed 13,000 staff worldwide. She served as a source of inspiration to women worldwide and is widely considered one of the pioneers of the fashion industry.
Founder of Liz Claiborne Inc.
Liz Claiborne has become one of the most celebrated designers in fashion history. Her designs combine femininity, modernity, and affordability into fashionable yet affordable products that have received many awards and honors over her long career. Sales reached $2.2 billion in 1993 – becoming the world’s largest women’s apparel company; however, in 1994 sales and income dropped sharply due to an inventory shortage and reduced customer demand.
Claiborne’s success as a women’s clothing designer can be credited to her insight into the needs of working women. Her designs were practical, designed to meet demand from American women needing comfortable work clothes, and first released for sale at department stores in 1976.
Soon her clothing line became popular and she expanded it further into other lines of clothes and launched fragrance and shoe lines for sale. By 1986 the company had expanded significantly and made the Fortune 500 list, becoming the first women’s apparel company ever included therein.
As the American economy began to change in the late ’80s, more women began entering the workplace – which proved pivotal for Liz Claiborne who responded accordingly by creating clothing designed specifically to provide professional looks for working women.
Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg became more widely recognized after they established a foundation providing support for wildlife conservation and other charitable causes. Although they retired as active managers from managing their company in 1989, they continue to remain actively involved with environmental and charity causes.
Despite financial setbacks, Fifth and Pacific Group has maintained its status as a market leader. Their diverse collection of brands includes Liz Claiborne New York, Mexx, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade Lucky Brand Jeans Concepts by Liz. Recently their parent company Fifth and Pacific Group announced the sale of some brands to J.C. Penney as an effort to expand market share and increase revenue for all three entities.
Liz Claiborne Foundation
The Liz Claiborne Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and wildlands. Established by Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg in 1989, its work centers on projects supported by local communities that demonstrate models for conserving species and wildlands.
Claiborne and Ortenberg met in New York City during the late 1950s, when Claiborne won a coat design competition sponsored by Harper’s Bazaar magazine with her sketch for it. They married shortly thereafter but later divorced. After regrouping their savings to finance business associate loans of $200K each they launched Liz Claiborne Inc in 1976 to specialize in women’s sportswear.
Liz Claiborne provided creative force while Ortenberg brought management expertise. Together they created moderately priced, stylish yet functional clothing designed specifically to serve working women’s needs while designing and marketing moderately priced stylish garments specifically targeted toward working women’s needs – an exceptional success that revolutionized industry standards over decades!
As her business expanded, Liz Claiborne introduced new lines of clothing and expanded its distribution channels. In 1988 she ventured into the retail apparel market by entering thirteen stores offering First Issue casual sportswear which increased company sales by 23.4 percent. Furthermore, she established her first cosmetics division and relaunched Liz Claiborne’s fragrance.
Liz Claiborne began expanding into international markets in 1992. To remain cost-efficient and maintain quality products while also keeping costs low, they contracted independent factories across 50 nations, which allowed them to maintain control of quality while keeping costs under control. Unfortunately, however, this method also makes it more challenging to oversee factory conditions and ensure workers are treated fairly.
Since Liz Claiborne was established, its sales and profits have continued to increase exponentially. Today, their brand name is recognized globally and fashion collections are sold across 60+ countries globally; stores offer clothing by the Liz Claiborne label; department stores sell clothing directly; mail-order catalogs provide mail-order services. Furthermore, accessories by this line, as well as fragrances, complete their offering of Liz Claiborne goods.