Michael Bastian is taking the plunge into women’s wear for spring.
Since launching his brand in 2009, the Michael Bastian label has been strictly men’s wear. But the designer, who served as men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman before starting his own label, believes the time is right to enter the even more competitive women’s market.
“We took our time getting into women’s,” Bastian told WWD. “But our women’s collection is very much an offshoot of our men’s wear. It will share the same fabrics and factories.”
Bastian characterized himself as a “men’s wear guy — that’s how I started, but we have assembled a good group of factories that we work with in Italy, and a lot of women buy our men’s wear, particularly the sweaters and shirts. So it was a nice logical extension.”
The line will offer luxury basics that are “not too logoed or tricked out — just like our men’s wear. I think there’s a need for this kind of thing.”
Bastian said the capsule will consist of around 27 pieces and will be heavily skewed toward tops, particularly shirts and sweaters. “We also added jeans, shorts and some trousers, a knit dress and a shirtdress,” he said.
About four or five pieces from the capsule will be shown during Bastian’s show at the inaugural New York Fashion Week: Men’s in July.
“How ironic is that,” he said with a laugh. “Showing women’s during the first men’s fashion week.”
While Bastian has not designed women’s wear under his own label, he did offer looks under the Gant by Michael Bastian collection starting in 2010. The collaboration between the two companies ended with the spring 2014 collection after nine seasons.
Bastian said his own women’s collection will be targeted to an older woman than the one he addressed with Gant. “It’s a different girl,” he said. “With Gant, she was the equivalent of the guy — just out of college, in her 20s. For this collection, she’s in her 30s, 40s or even 50s and likes classic, American sportswear done at a luxury level.”
He said the line will be offered on the Michael Bastian Web site initially “and hopefully a few accounts.” Bastian’s men’s wear is carried at Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, Mr Porter, Matchesfashion.com and Jeffrey, among others, and he’s hoping for similar distribution for the women’s collection.
“It always works best when your main partners are responsive since it has the same aesthetic,” he said.
For both genders, the spring collection will look to the tony enclaves of Bel Air and Beverly Hills for inspiration, and will offer a “more dressed-up interpretation of California style.” Key fabrications include linen blends for suits and shirts, lightweight cashmere, unwashed pressed indigo and white denim and banana-leaf camouflage prints.
Pricing will also be similar. Although final prices have not been determined, he said cashmere sweaters will retail for $875 to $925, and some of the more-basic pieces will sell for less. The line will be introduced at Bastian’s Milan showroom later this month and then in the New York showroom around the beginning of July.
“This is a big step,” the designer admitted. “The road is littered with men’s brands that weren’t able to make the jump into women’s.”
Bastian is confident he won’t be among them. “In our nine years in business, we’ve established a recognizable brand aesthetic and niche in the market,” he said.
Future plans call for expanding into other classifications, including outerwear, tailored looks and accessories.