Facebook Twitter



This is the fantasy: You can buy any dress in the store you want, provided it has one of these labels - Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Liz Claiborne, Adrienne Vittadini or Anne Klein.

Which would you choose?If you're like the majority of American women, you'd choose a number with the Liz Claiborne label.

That's the finding of a poll done by the public opinion firm EDK Associates for Redbook magazine. An astonishing 43 percent of women polled nationwide picked Claiborne clothes, ahead of the designer labels of Calvin Klein (11 percent), Anne Klein (10 percent), Ralph Lauren (6 percent), Donna Karan (5 percent) and Adrienne Vittadini (2 percent).

The remaining 23 percent didn't know which they'd choose.

Liz Claiborne, of course, no longer designs the clothes that bear the label. She and her husband, Arthur Ortenberg, retired in 1989 from the firm that is named for her.

The women polled apparently didn't care about that. They cited the mid-range prices and the fact that these are "wearable, real-life clothes" as reasons for their choice - points that probably would have pleased Liz Claiborne herself.

In an interview with Women's Wear Daily in 1989, Claiborne spoke about what motivated her in the beginning: "I wanted to dress busy and active women like myself - women who dress in a rush and who weren't perfect," she said. "But loving clothes, I knew clothes could do a certain thing for you from a flattering point of view. And I tried to bring good taste to a mass level."

Commenting on the results of the poll, which questioned 500 women nationwide, EDK Associates president Ethel Klein said that although status symbols continue to have significant appeal for women, "the constraints of the pocketbook may have tempered many women's desire for designer labels."

"The lower-priced secondary lines launched by several major designers may still be too pricey for many women," she added.

Younger women are most interested in the status of a designer name. According to the poll, more than half of women under age 30 frequently buy designer accessories, such as shoes, underwear, perfume or sunglasses. But apparently 44 percent of all women are still label-conscious. That's how many say they buy designer products "often or sometimes," with only 20 percent reporting they never buy an accessory item with a designer label.

Women are under no illusion that name labels mean better quality. More than three-quarters of those polled say that people buy designer clothes simply for the cachet of the name on the label. Only 13 percent thought the quality was better.

But even those who snap up designer names don't necessarily want to pay full price. In fact, many would brag about a bargain - 86 percent would be happy to tell you if they got a designer dress at half price, and only 2 percent would lie about it.