Steve Madden Plans to Amp Up Footwear for Betsey Johnson

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In a nearly $50-million deal that went down last fall, Steve Madden settled Betsey Johnson's debts, leaving her in control of the design process while taking over ownership rights. Now,

Madden's future plans for growth include a new fragrance, younger children and tween lines and focusing on making footwear comprise up to 25 percent of the Betsey Johnson business, WWD reports.

The first footwear collection will drop in March, with retail prices set about 20 percent less than those in the past, at around $110. Lest Johnson fans fear her dynamo design personality will fold into the mass-market Steve Madden portfolio, Madden gave reassurances that the clothing, at least, is still very much in her hands.

“We want to keep it small and special," he said. “Unlike many designers who have teams, Betsey actually designs the clothes. It’s been an interesting deal, because she really wants to design. I said we can get you some help, some assistants, but she didn’t want that.”

If Steve Madden's steady growth is any indication -- the brand will open eight new stores and launch a contemporary sportswear label in this quarter -- their business approach bodes well for Betsey.

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