Following in the footsteps of Isaac Mizrahi, menswear designer John Bartlett is doing his first line with Liz Claiborne, which hits his West Village store this week. The lower-priced items, like a classic navy-blue jacket with utility pockets ($178) and a casual checked button-down shirt ($69.50), will be sold right alongside the designer’s runway collection, which retails for three times more (jackets are $625). Bartlett’s spring runway showed only twenty looks, so we’re expecting some crowded store racks when the 100-plus-piece Clairborne collection arrives.
The timing seems spot-on for both Bartlett and Claiborne, as menswear sales actually rose one percent for the first nine months of 2008. And sales of Bartlett’s new line may be exactly what Liz Claiborne is banking on, given the company’s current financial situation. This past winter, the company, which owns Lucky Brand, Juicy Couture, and Kate Spade, laid off 725 employees, approximately 8 percent of its workforce. And since 2007, they’ve cut over 2,000 jobs and shuttered (or, in some cases, licensed) fourteen brands. Hopefully lines like Bartlett’s will breathe new life into the struggling company.