The massive success of Liz Lange, founder of the designer maternity line that carries her name, is a result of Lange’s predisposition to following her instincts.
While working at the fashion mecca Vogue magazine as a writer in 1988, a visit to the studio of an upcoming designer inspired her to go into design. As she looked at the studio and the creative activities, Lange strongly felt that this was what she wanted to do.
Trusting her gut feeling, Lange decided to make a leap of faith and become a designer instead. Born in the tony Upper East Side of Manhattan, she left t Vogue to become an unpaid apprentice of a struggling but talented fashion designer. She agreed to work for nothing as long as she can learn the ropes of the fashion design business.
As an apprentice, Lange took the opportunity to learn more about the fashion business from fabric sourcing to sales. She eventually became a partner in the business focusing on contemporary sportswear line.
In 1996, she married to Jeffrey Lange. During this time, Lange’s friends were also starting their families. As her friends became pregnant, she kept hearing their complaints that there were hardly any good clothes out there for pregnant women. It was either the clothes looked too frumpy, or made them look like a tent. Instead, Lange’s friends kept coming to their small design studio because they loved the stretch fabric outfits that Lange’s company produces, even if the clothes were not designed for expecting women.
Her pregnant fashionista friends’ predicament gave her the idea: why not create high-end clothes for pregnant women? This way, she can provide stylish, well-made maternity clothes for her friends and others. Instead of wearing frumpy clothes, she thought of creating maternity clothes using stretch fabrics that hugged the expanding bellies of the soon-to-be-mothers.
Lange first pitched the idea to make maternity outfits to her partner to expand their contemporary sporting line. However, the designer was not interested and refused.
Trusting her instinct that there is a demand in this underserved niche, she left the designer and decided to create her own haute couture maternity line. She started Liz Lange Maternity in 1999 against everyone’s advice – her designer mentor, even department store buyers she’s previously worked with – telling her that there’s little demand and profitability in this niche.
But her instincts proved to be correct: there was a big demand for designer maternity clothes. Pregnant women want to look good, too! Today, Liz Lange Maternity is one of the most successful maternity lines, creating maternity clothes for business, formal and even every day wear. Pregnant celebrities from Kelly Ripa to Jennifer Lopez have worn her designs on the red carpet.
Strategic partnerships, however, helped the business grew by leap and bounds. In 2001, Nike approached Lange to create the Liz Lange for Nike line of maternity active wear to be sold in both Lange’s boutiques and through Nike’s retail channels. To expand the market of her maternity clothes, she created a less expensive line for Target the following year, which is carried exclusively by the huge retailer. Lange has also enjoyed lucrative partnerships with Nikon cameras and the Bliss Spas, owned by Starwood Hotels.
She sold her business in 2007 for a rumored $50-60 million dollars. However, she remains the creative director and face of the brand.
Today, she maintains a fashion blog with her sister Jane Wagman called Shopafrolic.com . She also launched a new fashion line called Completely Me by Liz Lange , a vacation-wear inspired fashion line (non-maternity) sold exclusively at the direct sales HSN.com.