Innovation

Bettina Liano fashion brand back in administration following years of turbulence

Helen Alexander /

Administrators have been appointed to women’s fashion brand Bettina Liano after years of challenging times.

Richard Albarran, David Ross and Brent Kijurina from administrators Hall Chadwick in Sydney were assigned to the brand on September 24.

The first creditors meeting will be held in Hall Chadwick’s Melbourne offices on Friday, October 4 at 11am.

The eponymous label first went into administration in 2011, but recovered following a deal with Sydney-based clothing manufacturing business Apparel Group to design, manufacture and wholesale the brand.

A spokesperson for Apparel Group told SmartCompany this morning that they were not aware of the latest administration announcement, and that nothing had changed with the agreement with the brand.

Through the deal, Liano was to maintain control of her business – both the Bettina Liano label and youth diffusion label T by Bettina Liano – and retain the role of creative director for both brands.

Bettina Liano launched its first store in 1990. Recently it has experienced a turbulent few years that saw the brand close all but one of its Australian retail stores in favour of opening a New York store.

The closures included its original Chapel Street, Melbourne, store, which had operated for 23 years.

Liano told SmartCompany in February this year that the decision to move overseas was linked to Australia’s expensive retail rents. The designer said she was paying $25,000 a month for rent in Melbourne’s Chapel Street.

“It’s sad, but I’m going to come back and by the end of the year I’m going to reopen stores,” Liano said in February 2013. “I just want to pay good rent; Melbourne is not worth what they are charging at the moment.

“At the moment in the States it is like repeating how I started in Melbourne, there were empty stores going cheap. In Australia, in the last 12 months, I have been on sale for the last 12 months; it is just so price sensitive.”

At the time Liano told SmartCompany she wanted Bettina Liano to become a global brand with international trends and styles at the core of the seasonal collections.

In addition to the New York store, she intended to open sites in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami.

“I am just looking for volume in the market, I feel that I outgrew Melbourne in particular and I have been banging the drum for 23 years. I feel like I could do with a new audience and I’m confident that what I do is different enough from everyone else to be able to sell it [in the United States],” she said.

Liano said in January this year she had faced a “chronic delay with my suppliers”.

“I didn’t get delivery of a summer season until the first week of January so that just killed me – I don’t know how long you can sell a sweater for,” she said.

Liano told SmartCompany in early 2012 that the 2011 administration was a harrowing experience.

“I lost most of what I worked 25 years for, I lost millions of dollars in equity and I’m trying really hard. I’m not a crook.

“I was solely responsible and no one could help me except for me.

“It was harrowing and it was like walking a tightrope: it was like a 50-foot wave surf movie, when you fly down the face off a wave. I just flew down the face and I didn’t wipe out and now I am paddling back out.”

2013 has been a tough year for Australian fashion brands, with fellow womenswear labels Kirrily Johnston facing administration and Lisa Ho being forced to shut down.

Bettina Liano is known for its denim wear, sharp tailoring and fashion forward looks for women.

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