FROM THE GROUND UP: After 30 years making shoes, Walter Steiger is stepping into luxury sportswear. His debut collection of pants, skirts and sweaters hit the selling floor Monday at his flagship Manhattan store at 417 Park Avenue. Prices range from $350 to $1,200. The line is destined for half of the 20 Steiger boutiques worldwide this season. And Steiger plans to wholesale the spring 2000 collection, which will be sold out of his Paris showroom during fashion week there. Reached by phone in Ferrara, Italy, on Monday, the designer said he has always designed shoes with clothing in mind for a “total look.” He described his sportswear as clean but not classic, with unusual cuts.

SOLO FLIGHT: Make that one Chaiken, hold the Capone. The sportswear firm formerly known as Chaiken & Capone is changing its name and label to Chaiken, effective January 2000. The change comes a year after Julie Chaiken, president and owner of the five-year-old sportswear firm, parted ways with designer Pamela Capone. “It’s time to move forward,” Chaiken said Monday. At her runway show today, she plans to take her bow with head designer Jeff Mahshie.

THE 40-FOOT WOMAN: If you’re in the neighborhood of the New York Coliseum on Columbus Circle Wednesday night, look up. You’re likely to see gigantic Liz Claiborne ads projected on the Coliseum’s side wall. In a promotion with Vanity Fair, at least eight different 40-foot-high Claiborne images will be projected continuously on the wall throughout the night.

SEATING ASSIGNMENT: Spanish-born New York-based designer Miguel Adrover, who also owns the East Village boutique Horn, plans to have an important front-row guest at his show tonight: Alexander McQueen. The two are friends, and Adrover carries McQueen’s designs in his shop.

GETTING CLOSE: Betsey Johnson is closing in on a jeanswear license. The designer showed embellished jeans jackets and jeans on Monday, and Chantal Bacon, executive vice president of retail and marketing, confirmed that a contract is almost nailed down. However, she declined to identify the prospective partner. Johnson already sells jeans in her 26 retail stores.