A Liz Claiborne coat in a Pasadena Goodwill store. (Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles…)
Liz Claiborne Inc. is looking to the coasts for reinvention as the fashion firm ditches its name for a new one that evokes the style hubs of New York and California: Fifth & Pacific Cos.
The company hopes its new handle, meant to tap into the cool of Malibu and Manhattan shopping chic, will help refresh its image as it transitions from a department store retailer to a direct-to-consumer business.
Claiborne, headquartered on New York’s Broadway, plans to focus on fresher, premium brands such as Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and Lucky Brand that it says have more potential for global expansion. Each of the brands has stores across California and elsewhere in the U.S.
In the last year, the company has shed its older holdings, including selling its namesake brand and Monet jewelry line to mall retailer J.C. Penney for $267.5 million in October. Claiborne also ditched its lifestyle brand Mexx in 2011, along with its Dana Buchmann and Kensie brands.
“While it’s difficult to replace an iconic name like Liz Claiborne, we believe that Fifth & Pacific Cos. telegraphs who we are today — taking inspiration from New York and California, while describing our reach and our potential,” said Claiborne chief executive William L. McComb in a statement.
The company will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange as FNP once the name change takes effect in mid-May.
The company’s stock was up 7.4%, or 64 cents to $9.25 in early afternoon trading in New York. Though Juicy Couture sales slumped 13% in October compared to a year earlier, Lucky Brand soared 23% and Kate Spade jumped 54%. Net revenue for Claiborne as a whole was down 9.1% in the third quarter to $398 million.
Other retailers have also sought the name-change route as a makeover tactic. Last year, discount clothing chain Dress Barn Inc. finalized its transition into Ascena Retail Group — a name that the company said kicked out the “dowdy” and instead added “panache.” And Ann Taylor Stores decided to switch to a first-name basis, switching to Ann Inc. for its new corporate identity.
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