Over the last year, I have fallen in love with J. Crew and it’s all because of this woman.
Jenna Lyons, the creative director of the company has become an icon in the fashion world – a place where only independent designers were given street cred in the past. As J. Crew’s fashion visionary, she has been at the helm of changing the company’s “dated preppy” look to a stylish mix of masculine and feminine, with layers of vintage inspired jewelry that captivates people at every turn of the catalog. She’s become the face of the brand with her monthly report “Jenna’s Picks,” a popular link on the company’s web site.
Interestingly, her success and that of the company, can be attributed to her personal style. At a critical time for the business, when Jenna was working as a designer for the company, the new CEO noticed what she was wearing – high heels and cargo pants. He asked her why she wasn’t designing that? Soon, the combination of hard and soft with personal unexpected touches and high and low end products became the foundation of the new J. Crew - and everyone from Hollywood to the White House has taken notice.
J. Crew has become the destination brand for women who insist on designer style, but crave more conservative prices. It is both aspirational and attainable, and the quality and creativity of the product is unmatched for its price-point. While most retailers are struggling, J. Crew is thriving for all of these reasons.
How does she do it? Each season, Jenna is responsible for coming up with a design story. One recent season, she started with the idea of three women -- opera singer Maria Callas, actress Lauren Hutton and '60s-era socialite Slim Keith -- and imagined what it would be like if they shared one closet. The collection was an unexpected mix of pieces: a blush-colored tiered lace top worn with sporty rolled-up jeans, a grey feather skirt with a long navy boyfriend cardigan, grey wool houndstooth shorts with a ladylike coat with a jeweled collar. This example speaks volumes about her creativity and her ability to make clothes that women want to buy. And, they are buying them - J . Crew’s bottom line is proof of that. What a great retail success story.
Following are just a few of my favorites from the Spring 2010 season. Now if I could only find the J. Crew credit card my husband has hidden from me!