Liz Claiborne Co-Founder Helped Create a Fashion Star

As a co-founder and afterwards main govt of Liz Claiborne Inc., Jerry Chazen served condition a enterprise that supplied the unofficial uniform for hundreds of thousands of gals moving into the workforce.

Liz Claiborne revenue and earnings soared in the 1980s as the organization reliably turned out nicely-tailored skirts, jackets, blouses and pants that could be combined and matched. Mr. Chazen persuaded office stores to carve out distinctive sections to highlight Liz items—then a novel concept—rather than jumbling them in with other goods.

Mr. Chazen, who died Sunday at the age of 94, also served Liz Claiborne transfer garment creation to Asia and to stamp the manufacturer identify onto purses, footwear, hosiery, sheets, sunglasses, cosmetics and fragrance. Nevertheless the organization began getting rid of its way in the early 1990s, he under no circumstances lost his delight in striving to figure out what gals would get and how to existing it to them.

“We were being in the suitable put at the appropriate time,” he wrote in a 2011 memoir, “My Daily life at Liz Claiborne.” A lot more females ended up doing the job outside the house the house and seeking for new styles of outfits. The proliferation of malls intended far more prime exhibit space. Globalization spurred Asian investment in factories that could make higher high-quality for decreased expenses.

Mr. Chazen turned down the charge that shifting manufacturing to Asia was unpatriotic. U.S. garment makers, prolonged guarded by import limitations, hadn’t created the investments needed to meet up with Claiborne’s value, good quality and quantity needs, he said.

One more component in Claiborne’s early success, Mr. Chazen claimed, was that vendors “had not nonetheless turn into markdown or sale outrageous.”

Jerome A. Chazen,

known as Jerry, was born March 21, 1927, in the Bronx. His father, an immigrant from Ukraine, put in commercial steam boilers. His mother had labored as a seamstress and aided design and style dresses.

Following assistance in the Navy, he attained an economics diploma at the College of Wisconsin-Madison in 1948 and an MBA diploma from Columbia University two many years afterwards. While doing the job as a securities analyst at Sutro Brothers in New York, Mr. Chazen obtained a get in touch with from a Wisconsin classmate whose relatives owned an apparel maker. He was shortly launched as a touring garment salesman, driving to tiny-town shops in Indiana and Illinois, the begin of a complete instruction in the rag trade.

He later turned a clothing consumer for department merchants, helped deal with the Winkelman women’s attire chain, oversaw a knitting mill in North Carolina and aided run Eccobay, a maker of small-value trend.

In 1975, he got a simply call from Artwork Ortenberg, a former school roommate, who had married Liz Claiborne, a tiny-known garments designer. They obtained collectively with yet another partner, Leonard Boxer, and established Liz Claiborne Inc. with an preliminary financial investment of $250,000.

Mr. Chazen was in his late 40s, had a son in college or university and figured the failure fee for new clothing makers was about 90{5b4d37f3b561c14bd186647c61229400cd4722d6fb37730c64ddff077a6b66c6}. Even so, he saw a shot at the large time.

An early triumph arrived when a Bamberger’s retailer in Paramus, N.J., opened up a space dedicated to Liz style. “The response was phenomenal,” he wrote.

Velour tops also proved a shock hit. Quickly Mr. Chazen envisioned the core client as a 25-12 months-outdated woman heading for perform. “I think we dressed half the instructors in this nation,” he wrote. Inside of 11 many years, annual product sales attained $1 billion.

Between the flops have been a line of terry-fabric clothes in the late 1970s and a shop chain termed Initially Difficulty.

Ms. Claiborne and Mr. Ortenberg retired in 1989. In the early 1990s, income fell and revenue stagnated as section stores started to fade, new fashion rivals emerged and Liz designs went stale. Mr. Chazen stepped down as chief govt in 1995 and retired as chairman in 1996, when he was 69. The firm later went on an unwell-fated acquisition spree, introducing such brand names as Juicy Couture and Kate Spade. J.C. Penney Co. purchased the Liz Claiborne brand name in 2011.

Designer Liz Claiborne, foreground, in New York City in 1987.


Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Pictures

Mr. Chazen stated his position in Liz Claiborne’s success had been largely ignored. The media aim was in a natural way on the glamorous Ms. Claiborne, in spite of her shyness and reluctance to be a movie star. But without having his expertise in retailing and overseas sourcing, he stated in an job interview recorded by the Columbia Business enterprise Faculty, the firm could possibly have been “another smaller mom-and-pop organization.”

His philanthropy bundled funding for the Jerome A. Chazen Institute for Worldwide Organization at Columbia. His presents also supported the Chazen Museum of Artwork at the College of Wisconsin and the Louis Armstrong Home Museum in New York. He led attempts to elevate recognition of domestic violence and assistance victims.

Mr. Chazen is survived by his wife of 72 many years, Simona Chazen, a psychotherapist, alongside with three youngsters, seven grandchildren and one good-grandson.

Immediately after leaving Liz Claiborne, he invested in early web businesses. Most have been unsuccessful, he wrote, adding: “Maybe we should have trapped to trend.”

Compose to James R. Hagerty at [email protected]

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Kenneth Proto

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