Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Chapter For Michael Bastian

I've been waiting for this news to break for quite some time and it was officially announced via WWD right before Christmas - Michael Bastian is ending his licensing agreement with Brunello Cucinelli.  This might not sound like big news, but it is.  There will be no Michael Bastian F/W 2011 collection, but this move is going to enable all kinds of growth, especially on the retail side thanks to a planned significant price drop.  A big congratulations goes out to the entire Michael Bastian team and, for those of you keeping score at home, I've seen those watches mentioned below and they are beyond awesome.

"Designer Michael Bastian has parted with longtime licensee Brunello Cucinelli and set up an independent company that will manufacture and distribute his signature men’s wear collection on its own.

Solomeo, Italy-based Brunello Cucinelli, known for its luxurious cashmere and tailoring, became Bastian’s partner five years ago to launch the men’s wear range under his name.

'I think the time had come for us to fly the nest,' Bastian said. 'We reached the point where we realized from a financial standpoint that we could operate on our own. This will give us a lot more control over pricing and sales — and pricing has been the biggest issue in terms of growing the business at retail.'

The first season that Bastian will produce solo will be spring 2012. A collection will not be produced for fall 2011 and the designer will skip New York Fashion Week in February.

'It’s a little scary to take a season off, especially as we have so much momentum, but it was necessary to do this right,' he said. 'I’ve been in Italy this month looking for new factories and we’ve found several incredible ones that we will be working with. We had to take one step back to move two steps forward.'

Bastian said his goal is to reduce prices by 15 to 20 percent in order to make the collection more accessible. The line is sold in 20 high-end U.S. doors, including Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Confederacy and Forty Five Ten, as well as 15 doors overseas. Blazers now sell for $2,000 to $3,000, pants for $450 to $650 and shirts for $295 to $495. Prices should come down with Bastian’s new sourcing arrangements.

Providing a crucial financial cushion for Bastian as he strikes out on his own is his partnership with Gant, for which he designs the Gant by Michael Bastian label. Launched as a side project for fall 2010, the collection has grown into a significant business that will be sold in Gant stores in more than 20 countries for spring — as well as wholesaled to over 75 doors in the U.S., including Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Scoop. Gant and Bastian have just signed a new three-year deal to continue the line, with options for renewals.

'We initially thought this would be a great brand building opportunity for Gant; but, in fact, it’s become a great business as well,' said Ari Hoffman, chief executive officer of Gant USA. A women’s Gant by Michael Bastian collection is launching in Gant stores and online this spring. An eyewear range under the label, licensed to Viva International, made its debut this past fall, and a watch line, licensed to Synoco Scandinavia, will be introduced next fall.

'The Gant collaboration is providing a steady stream of revenue that’s helped give us autonomy,' said Bastian, who paid an undisclosed fee to Cucinelli to cut short their original 10-year license.

Cucinelli characterized his parting from Bastian as amicable and in the best interests of both parties.
'In order for Michael to grow, he needs a partner that can invest all their time and energy into helping his brand really get to the next level,' Cucinelli said. 'Due to the increasing growth of Brunello Cucinelli in the past couple of years, I felt it was important for us to focus all our efforts nurturing our brand. I think Michael has a lot of potential going forward.'

Bastian, who has been in talks with potential financial partners for the last two years, will continue to seek an investor to build the business, particularly with the aim of opening stores. This week, the company moved into its first official office and showroom, located at 210 Eleventh Avenue in Manhattan."



  1. I will invest in Michael Bastian.

  2. All I can invest are heartfelt wishes. I believe in you, Basty.

  3. I read the same article last week. I've never bought his stuff as those prices were too rich for my blood, but I hope he can have his line produced in the US and/or Europe. I hate it when designers ask me to fork over $100+ for an item made in developing countries.

  4. Michael Bastian has my vote for best menswear designer in the business. Hopefully this move will help me (and many other men) to afford more of his pieces in the years to come.

    - JMiah

  5. Looking forward to $200 MB Rugby shirts.

  6. Shorter version of article: nobody bought his clothes.

  7. This is such great news. Can't wait for the new and improved Bastian.

  8. Short version of anon 11:57's comment: I'm an ignorant troll.

  9. Hey, not a troll. Anyone who reads press releases for a living can read between the lines. In particular: "Bastian, who has been in talks with potential financial partners for the last two years, will continue to seek an investor to build the business, particularly with the aim of opening stores." No one willingly strikes out on their own without financial backing.

  10. Anon - Did you read the rest of the article? Enough people buy his clothing to allow him to buy his license back from Brunello, lease his first office and hire new people. Sounds like they're growing on their own, without an investor (probably GANT money). It clearly says that they're looking for investors to open stores, not to operate.

  11. Still, there is something about Bastian that makes me think that any of our preppy grandfathers would want to give him a monsterous kick in the balls.

  12. I think most of our preppy grandfathers would appreciate his stuff when its at his best (ie - ignore the speedos and weird knits) like soft shouldered tailored clothing that's actually long enough to cover your ass, beautifully simple hand knit cashmere sweaters and chinos that fit like the ones out fathers and grandfathers actually wore (look at take ivy). If you can separate the actual clothing from the way he shows it on a runway for theatrical impact I think you'll find that no one is doing things as well as him right now.