Making his mark on the fashion scene with a cheekiness usually not related to menswear, John Bartlett launched his own label in 1992 to shake up the monotonous minimalism of that era. Bartlett received two CFDA awards for his lace- and leather-filled collection and expanded his enormous success with his womenswear line in 1997. Bartlett saw a big decline in his brand in 2000 when his investors dropped out, and he received less than stellar reviews for his designs.

Although he shut down his company that year, he made a comeback in 2003 with a small collection shown at the Harvard Club. Today, Bartlett remains focused on the everyday American dresser. "I love all things American," he told Uinterview exclusively, "and like to interpret these all-American ideas for a sophisticated men's customer."

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Q: New York Fashion Week is upon us. How do you do you feel about this ritual? - Uinterview

I like Fashion Week. It is important to show a collection. It keeps my design process moving and keeps me on schedule.

Q: What's your favorite piece in your new collection? - Uinterview

I am in love with a double-breasted topcoat I did with horizontal gangster stripes.

Q: How do you find your inspiration for each season? - Uinterview

I look at a lot of films and art exhibits and see what moves me.

Q: Did you change your designs given the horrible economic climate? - Uinterview

No, I think this is a time for focus and individuality, not safety.

Q: When you arrived at Liz Claiborne, you choose not to dig into the archive, but to chart a new direction for your line. Why was that? - Uinterview

The Claiborne men's line did not have an archive per se. The women's has a legacy but the men's direction was left up to me.

Q: What's the one piece of clothing that every man should own? - Uinterview

A great-fitting sexy pair of jeans.

Q: What is the biggest fashion mistake the average American guy makes? - Uinterview

They wear their clothes too big and are hesitant to show off their physique.

Q: You are from Middle America—Cincinnati—how has that background shaped your design sensibility? - Uinterview User

I love all things American and like to interpret these all-American ideas for a sophisticated men's customer

Q: You went to Harvard. Fashion isn't always known for being cerebral. Has your intellectual approach helped or hurt your career? - Uinterview

It has definitely helped. People enjoy a thought process behind a design.

Q: Why did you decide to open your own store in Manhattan's West Village? - Uinterview

I live in the West Village and wanted to reach out to my community and create a more personal welcoming environment.