with contributions from Mayte Allende
 on February 6, 2017

NEW YORK — After a year without a fashion show, Badgley Mischka will be back on the runway Feb. 14 at Skylight Clarkson Sq here.The New York Fashion Week return of Mark Badgley and James Mischka coincides with this week’s launch of sportswear — a first for the 29-year-old company.In March, in a joint venture with footwear licensee Titan Industries Inc. and apparel licensee MJCLK LLC, Badgley and Mischka acquired the rights to the Badgley Mischka trademark and other Badgley Mischka IP from Iconix Brand Group for $16 million in cash.Through a joint venture with the China Ting Group, the pair have spent a lot of time in China lately on the company’s 300-acre campus, using golf carts to get from one work assignment to the next. The fact that the company weaves many of its fabrics was a plus, as well as its experience with other designer labels.During a preview of the sportswear, which ships to stores in July, Badgley said, "Our couture will always be our core business but the world has gotten so casual.” That was something they heard repeatedly from loyal customers, trunk show shoppers and via the brand’s social media platforms.As a result, their version of "casual glamour" offers everything from not so basic Ts — gray "tissue" cotton tanks with twisted details — to flared sleeved coats and brocade jackets. But it was the simplest of looks, such as a long sleeve white T-shirt paired with relaxed velvet trousers, which looked the most modern. The supereasy fit is designed so that “nothing grabs you, nothing’s darted or seamed,” but still elegant and comfortable to wear, Badgley said.The trickiest part was not to embellish anything, he said. “To keep the beads off,” Mischka said with a laugh. Badgley continued, “In our prior time, when we would do quote-unquote day clothes, Neiman’s, Saks and Bergdorf’s [would say], ‘Guys, this is evening separates. This is not sportswear’ and I would say, 'I know but we can’t help it.'”Sweaters will be added for spring and there is more of an emphasis on daytime footwear. With a boutique in Beverly Hills and 30 stores in China, the designers wanted to offer sportswear to shoppers. Special events will be in the mix."We’ll be doing all that dog-and-pony stuff. As you know, retail is not easy so any of that stuff you can do today helps,” Badgley said. "The assortment is so overwhelming. There’s billions of brand and departments. Whenever the store gets behind a designer, it validates that collection and just brings you closer to the customer. It also gets you out of the New York bubble. New York is so amazing but once you get out of here, it is such a different world. And the customer today is hard to influence. She doesn’t necessarily care what’s on the latest cover of a magazine. She wants clothes that work for her."Stressing the need for Badgley Mischka to “not have one identity” whether that be runway, bridal or anything else, Titan chairman and chief executive officer Joe Ouaknine said, “Sportswear is a must,” adding that it could be a $20 million business within the next couple of years.President Christine Bell Currence said, "With Facebook and Instagram, you can never wear the same dress twice anymore. Now you’re going to be photographed, it will get posted and it’s out to the world, so you need a new dress or something special. That’s what has gotten us to survive and to continue to grow.”And with consumers sounding off now more than ever online and in person, Badgley said, “As painful as it is, I know it’s a boring topic, everyone comments on sizing and asks, ‘Why are the models so skinny? Why are your samples size zeros? We’re not built like that.’ That’s the number-one thing by a landslide.” With that in mind, the sportswear samples that are used on-the-road will be in “real women’s sizing and they’ll love that.” “You know, real women’s sizing — a four,” Mischka said jokingly.He said he is not concerned about losing international shoppers in this unsteady political climate. "I’m actually very optimistic. Not to get into specifics about politics, but we have a businessman who is president. He might be whacked, crazy or whatever the opinions are but he is a businessman first and foremost. He’s going to make sure that business-wise we’re doing the right things.”Referring to Badgley Mischka’s current infrastructure, Badgley said, "There’s nothing as gratifying as to control your own destiny.” Mischka added, "Now you’re making your own mistakes. No one is making them for you.”

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