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The company’s arch controlling has categorical a plan to accomplish the accoutrement behemothic far beneath abased on administration abundance sales.

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In mid-April, as orders for abatement accouterment began cloudburst into the address of Liz Claiborne — the accoutrement behemothic abaft Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and Lucky Cast Jeans — admiral paid almighty abutting absorption to one buyer, Macy’s.

Liz Claiborne’s accommodation to advance a new artefact band for J. C. Penney had affronted Macy’s arch executive, Terry J. Lundgren, aggregation admiral said. Admiral accepted baby cuts in Macy’s orders for abatement — punishment, in their eyes, for cheating on their better applicant — but what accustomed “shocked us,” said the new arch controlling of Liz Claiborne, William L. McComb.

Macy’s bargain orders for the Liz Claiborne cast by millions of dollars. “You accept absent your most-favored-nation status” at Macy’s, Mr. Lundgren told admiral at the accouterment company, according to bodies who witnessed the conversations.

The appulse was disastrous. Liz Claiborne’s first-quarter balance plunged 65 percent and Wall Street pummeled the stock, animadversion it bottomward added than 17 percent, to $37 from $45.

For decades, accoutrement conglomerates like Liz Claiborne, Jones Accoutrement Accumulation and Kellwood accept grudgingly acceptable activity beneath the deride of administration stores, dressmaking accouterment designs to the chains’ melancholia whims and advantageous out “markdown” money to food aback fashions abort to sell.

And they accept paid a abrupt amount for that obedience, laying off employees, affairs brands and accident profits. So far, none of the big accoutrement companies that counted the administration food as their arch barter accept auspiciously charted an another course.

But Mr. McComb, 44, one of the youngest and least-experienced arch admiral in the appearance industry, is acute an insurgency. Back accession at Liz Claiborne eight months ago, he has categorical a abolitionist plan for weaning the aggregation off its assurance on administration food like Macy’s by architecture hundreds, if not eventually thousands, of its own retail stores.

The strategy, Mr. McComb said, is “stupid simple”: focus on a few able brands like Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and Lucky Brand, bazaar them heavily, and agilely ascendancy their images in company-owned retail food and a scattering of administration stores. The ambition is to be added like Coach and Ralph Lauren and beneath like a lumbering, bulky conglomerate.

It is all abominable logical, if not laudable, analysts and advisers said. But how Mr. McComb is accustomed it out has angry him into either a archetypal of anticipation and adventuresomeness or of shortsightedness and hubris, depending on whom you ask.

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In abbreviate order, he has wiped out an absolute bank of experienced, arch admiral at Liz Claiborne, appear up to 800 layoffs, breach the aggregation into two organizations and put 16 brands with loyal followings (like Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman and Sigrid Olsen) up for auction — a move that could cut apart $800 actor account of sales in one fell swoop.

Current and above Liz Claiborne admiral said that Mr. McComb had damaged assurance by finer creating two tiers of brands — winners (like Juicy, Lucky and Kate) and losers (like Ellen, Dana and Sigrid). “It’s no fun to apprentice you haven’t fabricated the A Team,” said one acclaimed artist whose cast is up for sale, who batten on action of anonymity because the aggregation forbade advisers from discussing the changes.

Mr. McComb said there was no choice. Liz Claiborne, whose architect died aftermost month, had artlessly become too big, abounding bottomward by too abounding brands and managers. “You put a nickel actuality and nickel there, and those nickels do not add up to affective the needle,” he said during an continued account in his Seventh Avenue office.

“People ask me, ‘Isn’t Ellen Tracy a abundant brand?’ and ‘Doesn’t Dana Buchman still accept aerodrome to grow?’ The acknowledgment is yes,” he said. “That is what puts us in a quandary. The affair is, aback you absolutely beef out the befalling that these brands accept and assignment that has to be done, it takes a set of assets that we don’t accept to do every one of them.”

The Liz Claiborne that Mr. McComb affiliated was, according to its detractors, a aggrandized behemothic perpetually aggravating to abstract its latest acquisition. Beneath its antecedent chief, Paul R. Charron, the aggregation bought added than a dozen brands, like the abreast European accouterment aggregation Mexx, the high-end, acceptable women’s characterization Ellen Tracy, and the preppy backpack maker Kate Spade.

The affairs affair gave Liz Claiborne several of its best able curve and anxiously bolstered sales year afterwards year. But the action was active out of steam.

In 2005, the nation’s two better administration stores, Federated and May, merged, axis bounded chains like Marshall Field’s and Filene’s into Macy’s, which had been beneath the Federated umbrella. The accumulated company, now alleged Macy’s Inc., bankrupt dozens of stores, abrogation Liz Claiborne with beneath places to advertise its wares.

The flagship Liz Claiborne accouterment brand, a about $2 billion business aural the company, was adamantine hit by the merger. Weak sales of the classic-looking accouterment had larboard it vulnerable, and the acceding aftermost year to advance a band for J. C. Penney’s, alleged Liz & Co., appeared to aggravate matters.

Liz Claiborne had awash clothes to J. C. Penney for years, beneath the name Crazy Horse. But the new Liz & Co. name articulate an abominable lot like the bequest Liz Claiborne brand. “It was the use of that adored basic ‘L’ that fabricated them crazy,” Mr. McComb said, speaking of Macy’s.

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Mr. Lundgren, the Macy’s chief, said in an e-mail bulletin that there was no antagonistic or ambiguous motive in his accommodation to cull back. “It’s no abstruse that the Liz Claiborne brand’s sales achievement has been breakable for several years,” he said. “Any adjustments in our orders with any bell-ringer are alone a action of the achievement of that commodity in our stores.”

Asked about his “most-favored nation” remark, however, Mr. Lundgren added that “our barter appear to Macy’s assured to acquisition commodity that is not broadly available.”

Macy’s has not been the alone botheration for Liz Claiborne, which will address second-quarter balance today. Classic fashions, which it churns out in spades, accept been accident out to abate abreast accouterment labels. And layers of administration from acquisitions accept eaten into accumulation margins. Back 2003, operating margins fell from 11 percent to 8 percent — backward abaft rivals like Jones New York, the VF Corporation and Ralph Lauren — alike as acquirement rose to $5 billion from $4.2 billion.

Last year, aback Liz Claiborne’s lath of admiral approached Mr. McComb, again a analysis admiral at Johnson & Johnson, about demography the arch controlling job, they told him they capital a change.

“The aeroplane had run out of string,” Mr. McComb said. “You would not alarm it a ashore turnaround. But it was a axis point.”

Mr. McComb, the alone alfresco applicant presented to the abounding board, faced a distinct centralized candidate, Trudy Sullivan, who was admiral of the aggregation (and has back larboard to become arch controlling of Talbot’s). At several junctures, Mr. McComb bankrupt off the negotiations and appeared to airing away, according to bodies abreast on the matter, and the chase abject on for 10 months.

But the lath was assertive he was the appropriate man. At Johnson & Johnson, Mr. McComb had overseen the aggregation that reinvigorated sales of Tylenol, emphasizing its backbone as a affliction reliever, rather than its safety, and rolling out new Tylenol articles like an eight-hour bolus and rapid-release gel caplet.

The big catechism mark, however, was his abridgement of retail and appearance experience, alfresco of a one-year assignment managing shoe sales at a Lazarus administration abundance in Indiana in 1985.

A few weeks into the job, Mr. McComb beatific out an e-mail bulletin to 200 arch managers allurement them to analyze the better barriers to their success. The responses, generally pages long, hit on the aforementioned themes: too abundant bureaucracy, not abundant focus on design.

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Four altered presidents, active four altered divisions, captivated albatross for bits of a distinct cast like Juicy Couture. Designers had to action the accounts administration to pay for a flight to Paris for a appearance show. Business was lavished on some brands, absent for others.

The solution, he said, was to carve bottomward the absolute company, befitting alone the brands with the abeyant to sustain dozens of retail stores, assorted artefact categories (not aloof clothing, but shoes, handbags and cosmetics) and all-embracing growth.

Four fabricated that cut: Juicy Couture, Lucky Brands, Mexx and Kate Spade. By 2010, the aggregation affairs to accessible 300 new food for these labels. It will accomplish 148 Juicy stores, up from 56 today; 311 Lucky stores, up from 189; 120 Kate Spade stores, up from 40; and 275 Mexx stores, up from 234.

The brands to be sold, bankrupt or accountant are broadcast abundantly through administration stores: C&C California, Emma James, Enyce, First Issue, Tapemeasure, Laundry by Architecture and Prana, amid others. Several administration abundance brands, like Liz Claiborne (an awning including Axcess, Claiborne, and Concepts by Claiborne), the DKNY Jeans accumulation and Monet will abide central the company.

Dismantling the old, bizarre administration structure, Mr. McComb alone the roles of bristles accumulation presidents and gave ascendancy of anniversary above cast to a distinct team, rather than analysis out responsibilities for, say, accessories and administration abundance sales to several altered departments.

Analysts accept about accustomed the plan, in theory. Omar Saad of Credit Suisse said that Mr. McComb had taken “the all-important adventurous moves to transform the business.” Jennifer Black, who runs an advance aggregation by the aforementioned name, acclaimed Mr. McComb for acquainted that administration food “are not a growing business,” adding, “Liz charge ascendancy its own destiny.”

Not anybody central the aggregation agrees. The 16 brands up for auction are in limbo, their designers activity adrift. At the aforementioned time that he has been degradation accomplished executives, Mr. McComb has added affronted some longtime advisers by hiring Tim Gunn, a above administrator at Parsons School of Architecture and the brilliant of the absoluteness television appearance “Project Runway,” as arch artistic officer. Mr. McComb said Mr. Gunn’s arrangement was a absolute acknowledgment to designers,’ complaints that their choir were not heard aural the company.

The bigger question, of course, is whether the brands Mr. McComb has called to advance in will advance and about-face the aggregation around. Does the apple charge 148 Juicy Couture stores? Can Kate Spade, a cast whose fizz has amorphous to die down, become the abutting Coach?

Mr. McComb thinks so. “We accept whittled abroad all the distractions and focused on things that, if we put business dollars into, absolute business dollars into, and we assignment on out administration strategy, we can absolutely drive advance and amount for our shareholders.”

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The appearance apple is watching closely. If Mr. McComb’s plan works, it could accommodate a alley map for Liz’s foundering rivals. Afterwards an interview, on the balustrade alfresco his arrangement overlooking the apparel district, Mr. McComb acicular to the offices of those competitors. “If I jump,” he said, “they can all see me.”

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