Contributing Writer

After a 38-year run designing women’s clothing, it seemed obvious Betsey Johnson had retired her sewing machine. The past few months have left Johnson fans and buyers hoping the end of Betsey Johnson wouldn’t actually be true.
When news first spread that stores were closing, everyone dreamed it would only be their local store. Many were in denial; how could the seemingly successful designer be having financial problems?

Unfortunately, all 60-plus stores around the country were closed.  

April appeared to be more difficult for fans of Johnson than for Johnson herself, who voluntarily filed for bankruptcy. The decision had to be made as Johnson owed over four million dollars to various people in different stages of the sewing and manufacturing process, including vendors, bankers, and jewelery makers.

While eBay sellers took advantage of the liquidation of stores, Johnson remained optimistic, saying in a press statement, “It’s full speed ahead at Betsey.” Many were alarmed by the nonchalant behavior of the veteran designer, but her zany and cheerful demeanor couldn’t be shaken, even by the collapse of her brand.

For a second, it seemed Johnson would stop designing altogether. This means shoppers would only be coasting on the remains of her designs at stores like TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, and clearance sections of department stores. Thankfully, her jewelry and accessories were not halted in the slightest by her chapter-eleven filing.
Everything from earrings to socks are still being manufactured and can be purchased at JCPenney under her sub-brand, Betseyville, which is also the name of her Mexican vacation home now for sale.

For a long time the prospect of online shopping was the only thing keeping wearers hopeful for more of the designer’s famous full and flirty dresses, but the website still seems to be perpetually under construction.
After about four and a half months of uncertainty, there is real hope for the brand.  Johnson recently threw herself a birthday-bash fashion show celebrating the very big 7-0.  

There, she debuted her new line, which admittedly looks similar to all of her past work, yet proves she is still spunky and full of life. The show featured classic-Johnson neon colors and endless gathered yards of tulle. To further demonstrate the designer’s ability to bounce back, all of the models sported hair crimped in Johnson’s signature style. These rather poufy and bright dresses will be available in department stores in time for Spring 2013.

In addition to making a retrospective return to the runway for her birthday, Johnson is now entering a new realm of excitement. The designer and her daughter, Lulu, have signed on with Style to have their very own reality show, Betsey & Lulu.

Cameras will follow the two around in their day-to-day lives, capturing the relationship of designer and muse. Johnson fans are hoping to see the more serious side of her, including information about her battle with breast cancer and Lulu’s single-motherhood.

While the summer was full of doubtful fans and wearers of the label, young women everywhere can now shop easy knowing they can continue to get their hands on the those bright pink Betsey Johnson tags once again.

Questions? Email Elizabeth at

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