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Designer John Bartlett Brings Heartland Ivy Style to the Masses

By Patrick Michael Hughes | April 18, 2013 7:47am

MANHATTAN — Fashion designer John Bartlett is building the American male closet with classic sportswear pieces and suiting.

Street Chic recently had a private press preview of eight looks for a fall 2013 line Bartlett has created for Bon-Ton Stores Inc, a chain with 272 shops in 23 states mostly located in the Northeast, Midwest, upper Great Plains and expanding to the Pacific Northwest. The store features  well-known brands including Kenneth Cole, Jones New York, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors and Coach.

Bartlett’s past experience in fashion as the creative lead of brands such as Claiborne, the men's brand of Liz Claiborne, as well as his own label, has fortified his understanding of the market and manufacturing. He arrives at Bon-Ton poised to expand the labels of his John Bartlett Consensus, which is focused on sportswear such as sweaters, flannel shirting and tailored suiting, as well as dress shirt collection John Bartlett Statements.

The sensibility of Bartlett’s designs has always been masculine — even a bit preppy — with a beguiling mix of rugged, uninhibited and virile looks. Street Chic was very impressed with the range of Henley styles, shawl collar knits and button-down shirting in very stalwart and eye-catching colors right on trend for the fall 2013 season. Cobalt blue, teal, yellow and aubergine were featured in checks, plaids and stripes, and we also spotted military olive hues in a subtle herringbone.

So, what’s new and fresh about Bartlett’s fall 2013 looks? We took note of his styling and fabric pairings, including "winter gingham" with a wide-stripe Henley, and a green and black gingham cotton shirt worn under a medium check green and black flannel buttondown with the sleeves rolled up — an ideal look for a stylish early fall swagger. We also liked the cobalt blue and gray striped V-neck sweater paired with a blue and white striped cotton shirt.

The wonderfully tactile and even familiar feel of these clothes is an astute marketing hole-in-one in terms of selling menswear. The looks draw a great deal from Bartlett’s personal brand of heartland Ivy style (he’s originally from Ohio and a Harvard alum), and the style and price point are very approachable for a wide market. These pieces work very well as standalone items but also find a place in any buyer’s wardrobe. Bartlett reinforced this idea by showing his looks for fall 2013 with classic American brands carried by Bon-Ton, like Levi’s, Dockers and Converse.