|Leader of the pack: Jenna Lyons (courtesy of The Sartorialist)|
When I was in NYC back in 2010 I fell in love. I fell in love with a brand called J.Crew. I loved the style, quirk and swagger of the J.Crew girl.
Little did I know that this girl had a name; her name was Jenna Lyons.
After graduating from Parsons in 1990, the then 21-year-old started as an “assistant to an assistant to someone else’s assistant,” as Lyons puts it, designing the company’s men’s rugby shirts. Years later and Lyons has worked her way up to her current role as Executive Creative Director and President. Along with J.Crew’s CEO and ex-Gap exec Millard Drexler, Lyons has helped to transform a brand once dictated by preps and profit margins into one committed to quality and distinctive design infused with a little of Jenna’s own unique personal style, which she describes as “a little bit borrowed from my grandmother, a little bit borrowed from the boys, a little bit special and a little bit messed up.”
To me the power of J.Crew lies not in the ability to keep up with the latest trends, but to remain timeless by evoking a strong brand identity that transcends the pages of a catalogue, shop floor and website. It also doesn’t hurt to be spearheaded by a fearless leader who brings a level of authenticity other brands could only dream about. Sadly, “the crew” have yet to grace Australian shores. But with the onslaught of a handful of big name US retailers like Michael Kors, Hollister and Pottery Barn (yes, you heard me) setting up shop here recently, I can only hope Ms. Lyons and J.Crew take advantage of the high street wave that seems to be sweeping our shopping districts nation-wide.
For now, all I can do is savour what remnants of J.Crew I have managed to salvage and love her from afar…
Snapshots from the September 2010 catalogue
x Grandma AL
Fast Company recently covered her in an article which you can read here.
Also you just have to listen to Jenna’s unique Cali drawl in an interview with Parisian blogger Grance Dore here.