Juicy Couture's dynamic co-founders Gela Nash-Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy are stepping down as creative directors. When I contacted Liz Claiborne regarding this morning's NY Post story suggesting the duo were leaving the company, they sent me a statement from CEO Bill McComb. Along with insisting that the founders are not "unhappy with the design direction," it explains what exactly is going on: There will soon be a new creative director--Nash-Taylor and Skaist-Levy will transition into creative consultant roles. "This transition is in keeping with the plan we made when I came to Liz Claiborne three years ago," said McComb. "At that time, the Juicy founders were concluding their initial four-year contract, and I was thrilled that they agreed to another three years with the express understanding that their final year would be as creative consultants." He went on to explain that this is a natural progression in fashion, which is true. "Frankly, this is natural evolution in our industry, where founders move from day-to-day operations to take on more of a creative consultant role as their businesses grow bigger and bigger,” he explained.
This is very much what happened when Kate Spade left Kate Spade, also owned by Liz Claiborne. Here's why I think it's a good thing--for the designers, at least. 1. Liz Claiborne, Inc. is a very sick company and it's going to take a long time for it to regain its financial health. Heck, it almost filed for bankruptcy protection last year. I'm sure part of the designer's contract when they first came on included shares in the company, but hopefully they got plenty of cash as well. 2. Liz's efforts to push Juicy upscale haven't worked. The appeal of the brand is that it's casual. And anyways... 3. Juicy Couture's cultural moment is over. I know that, you know that. Nash-Taylor and Skaist-Levy know that. Despite its efforts to convince us otherwise, Juicy is not Ralph Lauren--it's not a lifestyle brand that will always be able to sell its classic pieces. It seems like Liz Claiborne wants Juicy to keep cashing in on its past instead of inventing a new future. The design duo will be able to do that by trying new things.