Juicy Couture founders leave the brand

Juicy CoutureThe retail rumor mill is buzzing with the news that Gela Nash-Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy, the design duo who founded Juicy Couture, are abandoning the line, which is now owned by Claiborne.

Nash-Taylor and Skaist-Levy built a hugely successful company based on a single brainstorm: the ubiquitous velour hoodie and sweatpants set that became an actress go-to (on-camera and off-camera), housewife staple and teenage must-have.

Tees and accessories with glitter and gothic embroidery soon followed, and Juicy devotees jumped on them. Shoppers couldn't get enough.

But something has changed in the past few years. Maybe Juicy fans just reached sugar overload. Maybe even Orange County moms started thinking about what they could do with $200 besides spend it on sweats. Either way, the once-unassailable line started experiencing markdowns and collecting dust in tired sales corners.

And with its visionaries gone and Claiborne left holding the sparkly, terry cloth bag, the brand seems doomed. Unless: recently we talked about the need for cheap-chic emporium Forever 21 to infuse its styles with more maturity. Juicy should do the same.

Nash-Taylor and Skaist-Levy played to their grownup tastes by launching Bird by Juicy Couture -- but it's overpriced, and there's really no need to separate sophisticated fashions from the brand that's already built a following.

My advice: Claiborne should bring in a great, young designer to rethink the brand, tone down the embellishments, and keep the iconic flash and sass to fun extras like their fragrance and jewelry. I still love their charm bracelet -- this hot dog really won my heart.
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