Abstract: Changing Business Practices in Fashion: Liz Claiborne, An American Innovator: A New Era of American Design
In 1976, Liz Claiborne created a design-driven sportswear company that would revolutionize the American fashion industry. In this essay, I focus on the period from 1976 to 1993, prior to Liz Claiborne's retirement from the company, including my experiences as head designer for the Liz Claiborne dress division from 1988 until 1995. Claiborne's visionary concept, offering affordable mix-and-match separates with the same fit, comfort, and quality standards as designer-level products, filled a void in the fashion marketplace. She sensed a missed opportunity to dress women who did not have to wear suits to work. Her timing was impeccable, entering the market at a time of tremendous growth in the female workforce. Claiborne's first collections of bright, comfortable, versatile, and affordable styles were well received by customers. With her unique approach to design, production, pricing, management, and marketing, the Liz Claiborne brand was born.