Jeans queen Bettina Liano back from the brink with new business: “What are you meant to do, roll over and pull out? It’s not my style”

Cara Waters /

Fashion designer Bettina Liano is back in business with a new label, By Bettina Liano, following the collapse of her eponymous label into liquidation.

Liano was forced to put her 24-year-old denim brand, Bettina Liano Pty Ltd, into liquidation and close stores around Australia. 

It was the second time Liano’s business had gone under after first going into administration in 2011. 

Bettina Liano Pty Ltd and its associated brand T By Bettina Liano was salvaged through a deal with The Apparel Group but Liano was then ordered to pay more than $150,000 in bad debts to the group.

But Liano is back with her first “drop” of jeans for By Bettina Liano, a pop-up store and plans for a fashion show and online sales.

She told SmartCompany The Apparel Group has indicated it is not happy about her revival but says “who cares”.

“There’s no agreement between us anymore. I’m entitled to be Bettina Liano, that’s who I am,” she says.

“I didn’t see any point in moving away from that.”

Liano says By Bettina Liano is a very different undertaking with only two staff compared to the 90 she used to employ.

“I was really extremely successful to the point I can’t even believe it myself,” she says.

“Personally I was in no big rush to open 1000 stores but you just get hooked up with people and they just push you to expand as if it’s the be all and end all. It’s a common formula that you open too many stores too quickly and that’s the end result.”

Liano says her relationship with The Apparel Group has broken down but she does not harbor any bad feelings because “that’s not productive”.

“Unfortunately I signed that supply deal with The Apparel Group and they saw me coming,” she says.

“The trademarks went up for sale and they acquired them for next to nothing, including T by Bettina Liano, which is in Myer and turns over between $8 and $9 million a year. It’s really sad as that’s my life’s work.” 

But Liano says she is re-energized by her new business.

“What’s driving me is what’s always driven me,” she says.

“I’m a fashion designer and that’s my skill set. I don’t see any reason to stop now.” 

Liano says she really likes making jeans and people still want those jeans despite the many imitators. 

“It was a bit unfortunate what happened to me. It was a few mistakes, and bit of bad luck equated to a large disaster, but what are you meant to do, roll over and pull out? It’s not my style,” she says.

Liano declined to comment on how By Bettina Liano is being funded.

SmartCompany contacted The Apparel Group for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.

Cara Waters

Cara Waters is a former SmartCompany editor. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter for the Financial Times' website and worked for The Sunday Times in London.