Narcisco and Liz: A match made in heaven?

Narciso Rogriguez, designer of Caroline Bessette Kennedy’s wedding dress, and Liz Claiborne, the purveyor of everything from Juicy Couture tracksuits to Lucky jeans, announced today that Liz Claiborne Inc has taken a 50% stake in Mr Rodriguez’s namesake label.

Of late, we haven’t seen that many large fashion conglomerates take an interest in growing small high-end businesses. This particular partnership is also of interest because on the surface, there does not seem to be a natural match between Narcisco’s target market of luxury customers (who buy his collection at Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman and Barney’s) and Liz’s connections and expertise with lower priced Contemporary and Bridge labels (which are distributed much more broadly in stores like Bloomingdales, Macy’s and JC Penney). However, with the funding power and clout of a large strategic partner behind him, Narcisco may finally realise his aims to build a global brand. According to an article in today’s WWD, Liz’s strategy for the brand does not  include repositioning Narciso’s label to a lower price point, but rather to stick to the current high-end positioning of his designer collection while leveraging the Narcisco Rodriguez brand in licensing and non-apparel categories, where Liz has a great deal of expertise.

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