JC Penney snatches Claiborne from Macy's


Liz Claiborne is making some major moves -- and JC Penney is reaping the benefits.

The 33-year-old women's clothing company, known for its classic, tailored looks, announced today that from here on out, JC Penney will be the brand's exclusive retailer.

For JC Penney, the deal is a coup in the Penney's versus Macy's battle that heated up a few months ago with the opening of JC Penney's first Manhattan store, situated directly across the street from Macy's historic flagship.

For Macy's, losing the Claiborne brand to JC Penney is more of a blow to the store's heritage than its sales. Claiborne and Macy's have been synonymous for decades.

When I read this press release, the first thing I thought of was: I can't imagine what the store will use to fill in the gap vacated by Claiborne's neat skirts and trim little jackets, which often occupy high-visibility real estate on the Macy's floor.

The second thing I thought of was: hey, wait a minute -- what about Isaac Mizrahi's Claiborne collections? Last spring, the designer took over the brand's creative vision and turned out a highly-hyped (mostly by Macy's) assortment of tartan dresses and bright shoes. His subsequent collections have been less buzzed-about, but just as solid -- and the pieces' prices stretch into the hundreds of dollars. Somehow, I couldn't picture the $399 shrunken leather jacket flying off the racks at JC Penney.

But Claiborne already had an answer for that conundrum -- Mizrahi's higher-end products will jump to QVC. So if you want to get your hands on his designs, put down the car keys and pick up the remote.