By  on July 23, 2014

NEW YORK — Michael Bastian took a trip out West for his spring collection.

The New York-based designer said his inspiration for the desert-themed line started with the Sonoran Desert and expanded to include the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and other hallmarks of California in the late-Seventies.

“I saw a video on the history of the Eagles and that led to a whole Southern California, late-Seventies rock moment. Once you fall down the Google rabbit hole, you don’t know where you’re going to come out,” he said during a presentation of the line at his West Side showroom here earlier this week.

“There’s lots of denim and suede; it’s very Southwestern,” he said, pointing to the cotton crewneck sweater with a sunset pattern, red linen tartan Western shirt and cactus green Sedona shorts.

There were denim motocross jeans, bleached denim shirts and even a linen denim suit. “When you do Western, it’s easy to fall into costume territory,” he said. A suede jean jacket, sweaters printed with Navajo patterns and fighting scorpions, and button-down shirts with embroidered accents also set the tone without being hokey.

Even the more tailored pieces showed their casual side, with suits and sport coats in cotton mixed with linen or silk. “We used a lot of interesting blends,” Bastian said. “But everything’s really laid-back, even the formalwear.” Bastian offered up a midnight blue double-faced tuxedo that he paired with a Western belt and a cotton-linen, cream-colored dinner jacket was shown with a denim shirt and skinny cotton trousers.

Although the line may have its roots in the desert, it remained true to Bastian’s preppie, Americana roots and felt fresh and innovative. “The Southwestern connection is very preppie with all the button-downs, boots and jeans,” he said.

Bastian, who hails from upstate New York, is focusing most of his energies on his signature collection, which made its debut seven years ago. Since leaving his post as men’s fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman to start his own brand, Bastian collaborated with Gant on a successful lifestyle label for nine seasons, and has worked with George Front on jewelry, Frank Clegg on bags and small leather goods, Eugenia Kim on hats, socks with Soxiety and shoes with Stubbs & Wootton. He’s working with Uniqlo on a line of limited-edition polo shirts, which are sold under the name Uniqlo X Michael Bastian, now in its second season.

Like other American labels, notably Michael Kors and Rag & Bone, Bastian opted to show his spring collection prior to New York Fashion Week in September.

“September just doesn’t make sense for American men’s wear,” he said. “We finish selling in July so showing then is just a p.r. exercise.” And the men’s designers are generally overshadowed by their counterparts in women’s.

“It always feels like you’re a men’s brand dropped into the middle of the women’s week. So that’s why we said, ‘Let’s try this.’ Other big brands have taken that step and others have shown in Europe. So it’s slowly happening on its own. But we’re an American brand so it doesn’t make sense to show in Milan or Paris.”

Bastian said he’d be completely supportive of the creation of a separate men’s fashion week in New York. “We’ll be the first one to jump on board if they can figure it out,” he said.

Turning back to his own business, Bastian said he will be opening his first Web store in the October-November time period. The spring collection will be the first one offered and Bastian also plans to sell products from his collaborations including the shoes, jewelry and bags.

“Until we can open our first store, this is a baby step,” he said.

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