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Last April, Betsey Johnson LLC filed for bankruptcy. Much to the chagrin of Johnson's loyal fans, all the Betsey Johnson stores worldwide shuttered, including her original flagship in New York's Soho neighborhood. However, there's quite a bit of confusion about what exactly that means for the label.
Johnson held a runway show last September during New York Fashion Week showcasing a mix looks from the Betsey Johnson archive and new designs. BetseyJohnson.com is still alive and kicking (and very, very pink), and the brand continues to send out marketing emails announcing sales pretty frequently. So it's a bit confusing—is she coming or going?
The official answer is she's coming. In February, the Betsey Johnson brand will relaunch as a lower-priced dress line available through department stores and BetseyJohnson.com, from what we've been told).
Coinciding with the new label as well as the launch of her daughter Lulu Johnson's first independent line, Lulu and Allison, the pair will be starring in their own reality show on The Style Network. And This summer will see the launch of her third fragrance, Betseyfied.
The New York Times sees Johnson's endurance as not only a testament to her resilience, but "a test... of whether independent designers, birthed in the cradle of New York's downtown creative scene, can still compete in the era of fast fashion."
When asked why she thought her label failed, Johnson told the times it was either just bad timing, "or maybe it all began when stores started knocking off my $250 prom dresses for $49."
So Johnson is competing with fast fashion by lowering her own prices. The new line of dresses will also be called Betsey Johnson and will be sold at Macy's, Nordstrom, and other retailers starting for $99 to $249. "They'll be young in spirit like Betsey is, but accessible for women up to 40 years old," a Macy's rep told the Times.
Shoe mogul Steve Madden, who now owns the Betsey Johnson brand, said he think the new line will rescue the label from its financial troubles. "There's a girl in every town that identifies with Betsey," he said. "It just means more Betsey for all of us."
· Betsey Johnson, Back in the Pink [NYT]
· Betsey Johnson Files for Bankruptcy, But Don't Worry, She's Still Doing That Reality Show [Racked]