So, news broke yesterday that Jenna Lyons, CEO of J.Crew would be stepping down after 26 years at the company. In the US, J.Crew was always the hipper, cooler version of L.L. Bean or Lands’ End in the early 90s, and originally, it was catalogue only shopping with the order form attached at the centre. There were no stores. None. And I can remember waiting anxiously every time that new catalogue came out. My first purchases with my first credit card? A colour-block pique polo shirt and a pair of what would now be considered “high-waist” denim shorts. Also a navy blue polka dot (cotton) bikini. Love xx (and what does it say that I still remember that 20-something years later?)
At the time I didn’t even know who Jenna Lyons was – but she put the adorable critter embroidered clothing everywhere (I have turtle critter chinos I break out in the summer – still).. and the combo of sequins in the daytime! SEQUINS. With camo and stripes. Yes! And shoes that were sparkly and didn’t even seemingly go with the rest of your outfit.
Arguably, many have had it right over the last 5+ years or so – massive company debt, over-priced items, and sinking quality. I have cashmere from 10 years ago and TBH, it’s better quality than what’s in stores today. Basics that were staples of any closet disappeared in lieu of trendy items that were ridiculously priced. Remember when the Cece ballet flat came back? It wasn’t nearly as good as the original.
And what happened to classics like the basic rollneck sweater/jumper that came in 100% cotton, cashmere, or a cotton/cashmere blend? Gone. Scoop back swimsuit? Gone, though it did come back briefly last year. Café capri pants/trousers? Round toe Chelsea boots with the basic 1″ heel? Schoolboy blazer? (Ok, fine, it was replaced with the Rhodes blazer, but still…) Biennial satchel/hobo bags? Flannel-lined chinos? Cotton blend swimsuits? Etta block heels? And the basic barn jacket with the corduroy collar?
Accessories also made J.Crew a staple across the country. The bubble necklace that everyone had in seemingly every colour imaginable – and copied endlessly by the likes of Bauble Bar and others? Chunky pearls and sparkly statement necklaces during the day? Absolutely! Don’t forget the beaded rose necklace too, or the pretty much any necklace that would seem more appropriate during the evening. But hell, New Balance became cool again and everyone had #shinyponies.
Maybe we should’ve known the end was nigh, as even the wedding collection disappeared last year and one of the ruffled, flamenco-inspired skirts shown for SS17 last autumn had an asking price of $900? Regardless, I’ll miss Jenna and no longer be afraid of sequins during the day and be ok knowing camo, like leopard, is a neutral. I’ll still be a J.Crew girl.