Y2K fashion is no longer a trend, but rather a movement. Over the past couple of years, some of the most polarizing and kitschy designers of our time have made amazing comics, from Ed Hardy to Von Deutch. And now, arguably the most important designer for your inner child is back: Betsey Johnson — and she’s back with a vengeance.
This year marks the Connecticut-born designer’s 80th birthday cartwheeling around the sun, and the launch of a very-Betsy collection that feels her namesake brand is growing among new fashion fans. The designer’s slow but steady grand re-entry follows the recently launched Betsey Johnson beauty line, throwing OG Betsey fans into a time machine as if the designer hadn’t left.
In the year In 2022, the list of suitably influential “It” girls continues to grow. York-inspired handbag. Vanessa Hudgens, Amelia Hamlin and even Britney Spears are on the list.
Even 44 years after her label’s founding in 1978, it’s clear that the designer’s edgy yet healthy aesthetic has resonated with young people again. These are clothes that I love, live, breathe, and wear to the fullest every day, so it’s fun to see how everyone, of all ages, wears the brand,” Johnson told NYLON.
The most famous of Johnson’s new wave followers is none other than NYLON cover star Olivia Rodrigo. Since debuting her single “License to Drive” in January 2021, the rising star has been recaptured time and time again with archival looks and new Bette Johnson outfits. The princess of cool pop-punk is currently the leading influence in defining what’s hot and what’s not among her Gen-Z-heavy fan base.
According to fashion resale platform Poshmark, searches for Bette Johnson pieces are up 44% compared to May 2021, when Olivia Rodrigo wore custom Bette Johnson x Jennifer Behr butterfly hair clips to the 2022 Met Gala. Sour Prom Premiere, across the stage Sour tour, on the cover of her music video for “Atrocious”. Conflict Magazine and more. And her influence has quantifiable evidence: “Searches for Bette Johnson peaked in early July, when the brand hit an incredible high,” a Depot spokesperson told NYLON, which coincided with Rodrigo’s conclusion. Sour Visitation on July 7th. The Marketplace app saw an 80% increase in Bette Johnson searches from the end of 2021 through April.
While the 19-year-old pop star loves other vintage designers like vintage Vivienne Westwood, Chanel and Roberto Cavalli, Rodrigo’s constant rotation of vintage Bessie has many ’90s and early 2000s fashion fans wondering: Is the teenager as obsessed with saving as her 2000s-born friends? Or will the Betty Johnson brand appeal to a new generation with Rodrigo cleverly used as a pawn?
“Olivia is rebellious, but she always has a hint of grace, which is the quintessential Betty daughter,” Johnson told NYLON. She is definitely the poster child of the brand.
of Sour The theme of the tour was eerily reminiscent of early-aughts middle school dances, as some of the special concerts were prom-themed — intricately designed with a junior high gym scene on dance night, corsages and all. And it’s safe to assume that this aesthetic was on purpose with Rodrigo’s Millennial stylists Chloe and Chenelle Delgadillo. Vintage Bessie Johnson Fox covers the singer’s best wardrobe, joining established labels like Aria and Alessandra Rich, along with buzzy internet brands like Lauren Perrin and Saint Cintra.
Just hearing the name Betty Johnson in the late 90s and early 2000s conjures up many memories and emotions. The designer’s heyday was at an exciting time in the life of a young and individualistic woman who began to find and express her personal identity through clothing. “It” aspiring girls like Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez have been playing Betty Fox all over the Disney Channel. If our childhood idols wore tulle tiers and sequined dresses, we’re obsessed with the bright brand. Johnson’s unwavering sense of youthfulness and strong-girl spirit has been imprinted on adoring teenagers for decades and continues today.
For Bette Johnson fans who grew up praising her kitschy clothes and carefree attitude, seeing Rodrigo sporting the once-desirable good girl cements her good-girl status not just for her peers, but for generations before her in a cerebral, psychological study. Level. And now, millennials have the spending power to tap into their inner child and welcome Ms. Johnson into their lives (and closets).
Johnson’s focus these days is a touch more approachable in the form of pared-back slides and floral sundresses – still super loud and in true Betty fashion, of course. Her famous designs are still available on second-hand sites like Depop or Poshmark, but if you don’t want to pay for resale, the newly launched birthday collection showcases the brand’s DNA in a refreshing way.
“As I reflect on my many years in this industry and related collections, I wanted to draw inspiration from the patterns, images and prints of Bette Johnson that I love so much,” says Johnson. “This revival collection features my absolute favorite prints from across the archive – the newly expanded Spider print, my tattoo print in collaboration with Mark Mahoney and the tin can be lifted but reimagined for the modern Bessie woman.
When asked who the new collection is intended for, OG fans or newcomers, the designer replied, “Betty Johnson’s clientele is from 15 to at least 50 – up to 80 and up!” For Johnson, the landmark collection is an unforgettable moment, right there with “hanging out with Eddie Sedgwick and designing costumes for Andy Warhol movies” and “opening my 72 retail stores and being involved in the whole process from the top.” Down.
Johnson celebrated her birthday and new collection last week, with die-hard fans, family, colleagues and even a new beau. “I went to the grocery store in an orange coat and looking at wine. This guy told me something really funny about his coat and we’ve been together ever since. As it was Boom!” Johnson on Meet-Pretty Foods.
“I never give up on love. That was one of the most amazing things in my life.” [at] “I meet a guy in the grocery store who is almost 80 years old,” she added. “I love him so much. It’s never too late, just live and try to be healthy.” Considering that the legend is as sharp, energetic and relevant as ever, we should take her advice to heart.
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