Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another Interview with J.Crew's Lyons

A big "thanks!" to Dina (check out her {super fun} blog: "My Superfluities..."), who shared the following article from NYLuxury (click here):

Style Interview: Talking With J.Crew's Jenna Lyons
by Marla J. Wasserman
June 24, 2009

Long before Michelle Obama catapulted J.Crew’s popularity into the stratosphere, Jenna Lyons intimately understood the brand’s allure. For the past two decades, Lyons has been part of J.Crew’s design team and now reigns as the brand’s Creative Director. With her all-American model look and athletic physique, Lyons epitomizes the classic, chic style synonymous with J.Crew and easily relates to the consumer’s desires. Two years ago, Lyons helped spearhead the launch of J.Crew Collection recognizing that a market exists for a couture-quality splurge now and again. Despite a hectic schedule – including helping to outfit Sasha and Malia – we recently got Lyons to share the inside scoop on the hottest summer items, where the brand is headed and how you can soon outfit your kids in Crewcuts, when a new city store debuts this summer.

Q: For those who aren’t familiar with J.Crew Collection, what is it?

J.Crew Collection is a pricier set of designs that bears its own black label. The Collection came about as a natural extension of J.Crew. As designers, we love to push the envelope and try new fabrics and mills that we never used before. We quickly found we had a following for the more special and unique items. We see the Collection as a part of J.Crew, not as a stand-alone item.

Q: What are some of the hottest Collection pieces for the summer?

Our best-selling Collection item has been an all-over sequin skirt in cognac and Capri flip-flops. Most women are pairing it with a t-shirt (which we love)! I just love to see people mix the brand with everything from casual tees to Valentino and Issey Miyake.

Q: Are Collection items sold in their own stores?

Collection pieces can be found in some of our boutique-style stores such as the one at Madison Avenue and 79th Street. We love the way this store looks and feels and have designed a similar store in Malibu. We also have a store that sells Collection pieces in East Hampton and on Prince Street. Plus, Collection pieces can be purchased on our web site.

Q: What has the reception been to the fancier boutiques?

Amazing. The store at 1035 Madison has been met with huge enthusiasm. People love the elevated se
rvice and the store’s décor. The service goes above and beyond what most people expect. Between the service, the mix of product and the ambiance of the store, the response has been overwhelming. While the Collection boutiques feel a bit more upscale than a traditional J.Crew store, they are all warm and approachable.

Q: Everyone knows that the First Lady is a big fan of the brand! Is she wearing Collection pieces and how does it feel that she chose the brand you design?

The excitement and pride we feel regarding Michelle wearing our clothes is immeasurable. She has worn a mix of our pieces from the Collection and J.Crew. We are thrilled and honored to be a part of her day in some small way! In addition, having her girls wear Crewcuts is a major bonus.

Q: The Obama girls have made Crewcuts a must-have for all fashionable kids – tell us when our city will have its own Crewcuts store?
While it won’t be the first free-standing Crewcuts, come this August, the Upper East Side will get a store at 1200 Madison Avenue. This new store will carry the full assortment of the line: shoes, accessories, even party clothes. We are so excited to be coming to such a beautiful neighborhood.

Q: If the women have Collection and the kids have Crewcuts, what is there for men?

Obviously, J.Crew has a huge male following and we have amazing clothes for men. In fact, we opened our first ever Men's Shop at the former Liquor Store Bar in Tribeca (235 West Broadway) where we also carry specialty items for the men. For the shop, we pulled together the best of our men's collection and combined that with limited edition product and rare vintage finds. Whether it is a Mackintosh coat, Alden shoes, a great suit or amazing Globe Trotter luggage, we have it all.

Q: Given the new economic reality our country faces, is J.Crew at the right price point to look fashionable without breaking the bank?

We certainly think so! Whether you’re buying an $800 coat or a $98 blouse or an $18 t-shirt, we have it all and we don’t want to alienate anyone who simply likes great style and design, regardless of price.

Q: With J.Crew’s current popularity, do you ever worry about sustaining the excitement?

We feel incredibly lucky to be in the spot we’re in right now! I’m a bit superstitious so I don’t want to say too much! We can only hope that customers continue to appreciate what we’re doing.

What are your thoughts on the article? Were there any points you found interesting? Any points you disagreed with?


  1. I have not seen much more HYPE on Michelle wearing JCrew lately. Has she and I have missed out? The latest sweater I saw her wear--it was a purple argyle-- did not sell out like hotcakes and still pops up regularly online on big sale markdown!

    Nice to hear all the latest JCrew store openings, etc. Thanks for the post!

  2. Alexis,
    I have to say a big thanks for this post. I am a # 1 fan of JCrew Collection and this post gave me the answers that I was looking for.

  3. Thank you Dina and Alexis for sharing the article. While I don't always concur with Jenna, I do love to read the interviews and articles. Also a big fan of the Collection items. When new arrivals are out, I check the J.Crew Collection first thing!

  4. "Couture quality"? Bwahahaha.

    IMO Collection items have interesting details that justify a somewhat higher price, but there is nothing in the workmanship or basic materials that distinguishes them from other J.Crew items, i.e., sweaters are the same yarn, they just have some extra stuff stitched on them.

    I like Collection items, and I may continue to buy them . . . very carefully, and without being taken in by the hype.

  5. Like everything JCrew (or anywhere else for that matter), there are hits and there are misses. I've found some wonderful collection pieces that are exceptional quality. And then there are those that are questionable at best.

    Maybe I am a victim of wishful thinking but it seems to me the posts lamenting the poor quality have sharply declined, although haven't ceased completely. I do hope JCrew recognized that it was a real problem and have taken steps to address it. I've only ever received a couple of defective items and each time have returned them to JCrew for a full refund, regardless of when purchased or price.

  6. The comments on this blog may not be mentioning defective issues but if you read some of the other blogs I have read about all kinds of defects on JCrew clohtes! Good info. IMO. I wish others would post those issues here as well but I enjoy looking at other blogs too.

  7. Genny - I read quite a few blogs and I have seen the lack-of-quality posts decline as a general trend. During the winter season it seemed like every other post I read was about poor quality. Now, not so much, but it is still out there.

  8. I'm struck by how J. Crew (as well as other stores, like the Gap and even Sundance Catalog) has adopted this designer/creative director-approach to their marketing. The whole "Jenna's Picks" phenomenon is an example. (I'll confess: the first time I saw a "Jenna's Picks," I thought they'd made 'her' up to catapult a marketing strategy.) What this approach does, I think, is launch Jenna as some sort of style maven; I say this even as I acknowledge that J. Crew does style their catalogs really well, much better than their competitors. In a way, the outfits (even the way the website 'recommends' other items 'our stylists love!') feel dictated rather than emerging out of an individual woman's life. I wonder if this effect comes about because everything at J. Crew is J. Crew. It's interesting to compare Anthropologie here: that store carries lots of different lines, so the looks that can come together there seem so much more eclectic. I'd be curious to hear what others think.

    Back to the interview: I must say, I'm a bit put off by Jenna's calling Mrs. Obama 'Michelle.' Seems disrespectful and a touch too name-droppy.

  9. Regarding the comment (about the collection stores) - "People love the elevated service and the store’s décor. The service goes above and beyond what most people expect." I have been to the NYC Collection store on Madison Ave and I can't say that I received "elevated" or "abouve and beyond" service. I would say it was the same as other JCrew stores. Also, doesn't everyone deserve great service no matter what they are buying? Instead of putting efforts into the collection line and stores, I wish they would offer loyal/repeat customers more perks like free shipping.

  10. Genny, CaptainCrew, the real commentary went with the disabling of the anons, sigh......I miss them

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Jodi, there are still plenty of Anons posting on other blogs. But ya, I miss them too. ;-)

  13. Thanks, Dina & Alexis. Always interesting to hear their perspective!


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