Kate Spade & Company, initially known as Liz Claiborne Inc. (founded in 1976 in Manhattan), and then as Fifth & Pacific Companies until February 25, 2014, is a fashion company that designs and markets a range of women's and men's apparel, accessories and fragrance products under the Kate Spade New York and Jack Spade labels.
Liz Claiborne Inc. was founded in 1976 by Liz Claiborne, Art Ortenberg, Leonard Boxer, and Jerome Chazen. In 1980, Nina McLemore founded Liz Claiborne Accessories. Liz Claiborne Inc. went public in 1981 and had made the Fortune 500 list in 1986, ten years after it was founded, with retail sales of $1.2 billion.
After retiring in 1989, Claiborne died on June 26, 2007, at the age of 78 from complications from cancer.
On May 15, 2012, Liz Claiborne Inc. officially became Fifth & Pacific, Inc. and shifted focus to three brands – Juicy Couture, Kate Spade New York, and Lucky Brand Jeans.
On October 7, 2013, Fifth & Pacific Cos announced that they would sell Juicy Couture to Authentic Brands Group for $195 million. In December, the company announced it was selling Lucky Brand Jeans for $225 million to Leonard Green & Partners, leaving the Kate Spade businesses as the company's sole label.
On February 25, 2014, Fifth & Pacific was renamed Kate Spade & Company. Craig A. Leavitt succeeded William McComb, whose retirement marked the official end of the company's transformation from Liz Claiborne to Kate Spade.
Founder Leonard Boxer retired in 1985, and in 1989, Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg also retired from active management. Jerome Chazen became the company's Chairman in 1989 and held that role until 1996, when Paul Charron became Chairman and C.E.O. and held that position until 2006. During Charron's tenure Liz Claiborne, Inc. acquired Lucky Brand Jeans in 1999. In 2001, they acquired Mexx and in 2003 they bought another small fashion company, Juicy Couture. The company acquired kate spade in 2006. On October 16, 2006, Liz Claiborne Inc. named William McComb, a Johnson & Johnson veteran, the company's Chief Executive Officer.
On October 8, 2009, JC Penney Co. (based out of Plano, TX), announced that it would become the exclusive retailer for the Liz Claiborne brand. All Liz Claiborne merchandise would exit any additional department-store retailer, and the Liz Claiborne New York designed by Isaac Mizrahi would move from department stores to QVC. The Liz&Co. and Concepts by Claiborne brands originally exclusively sold at JC Penney would be phased out, and the Liz Claiborne merchandise would begin appearing in JC Penney stores in August 2010. In October 2011, the company completed the sale of its Dana Buchman brand to Kohl's. In November 2011, the Company announced that it has completed the transaction to sell domestic and international trademark rights of its Liz Claiborne family of brands and domestic trademark rights of its Monet brand to JC Penney. In 2013, Fifth & Pacific narrowed its focus to the Kate Spade brand by selling both Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand Jeans, returning to a mono-brand company.
Deborah Lloyd, formerly of Banana Republic and Burberry, joined kate spade New York in 2007 and leads the creative aspects of the brand as president and chief creative officer. In this role, she oversees all creative aspects, including product design, merchandising and creative services.
Craig A. Leavitt, currently chief executive officer, joined shortly thereafter.
The Kate Spade & Company portfolio of brands today includes Kate Spade New York and Jack Spade. The Adelington Design Group, a private-label jewelry design and development group, is also operated by the company. It markets brands through department stores, and serves J. C. Penney, via an exclusive license for Liz Claiborne and Monet jewelry lines, and Kohl's with a license for Dana Buchman jewelry.