SYDNEY — Australian designer Bettina Liano, famous for her glove-fit stretch jeans, is making a move on Manhattan.
The Australian fashion industry veteran, who is rebuilding her business after it financially collapsed in 2011, said Friday that she will open a boutique at on Mott Street in SoHo, on Feb. 15, and plans to open a second New York store by the end of the year.
The 450-square-foot store will open selling Liano’s spring-summer “White Gothic” collection.
A silent U.S. investor is funding the brand’s North American expansion. This is Liano’s third lifeline in as many years after her business collapsed under debts of over seven million Australian dollars in July 2011 ($7.5 million at exchange rates for the period) and entered voluntary administration.
In May 2012, Liano signed a manufacturing/distribution licensing deal with the Melbourne-based Apparel Group, which owns the Saba, Sportscraft and Willow brands.
Liano has retained 100 percent ownership of her business, which once had a sizeable distribution network in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The designer also made a brief foray into Barneys Co-Op in 1999. All but two stores in Sydney and Melbourne have since closed.
One of Liano’s big denim hits came in the late Nineties with the “Ace”: a low-rise skinny jean in stretch dark denim with white triple stitching, which was seen on celebrities such as Kylie Minogue, Liz Hurley, Courtney Love, Elle Macpherson and every second Australian hipster.
“I needed to do something positive and Australia is not presenting as positive right now – everyone’s been on sale for a year” said Liano. “The world just shrank with all the online stuff and I’m competing with everybody anyway here now with [U.S. and Australian dollar parity] so I may as well get amongst it…If you take out the overwhelming fact that it’s the other side of the world and you just look at the business side of it, it makes perfect sense.”