J. Crew has in many ways redefined the American look. The distinctive mix of dressy and casual, carefully curated pairings and thrown-together favorites, have created a new definition for the burgeoning “heritage” look.
Even through the New York Times writes today about the important role heritage themes are playing in the current retail climate, it was J.Crew that literally invented the the whole genre. When I attended a recent J.Crew meet-up in D.C., much of the talk was whether or not L.L. Bean had captured a real sense of heritage in their new Signature brand – you know, like J.Crew had. Bear in mind that L.L Bean, already 100 years old and progenitor of the authentic refined-rustic-American market segment, based much of Signature’s product mix on its own deep archives. Bean even hired back Alex Carlton, founder of Rogues Gallery – one of the most hertiagey brands out there – to be its lead designer.
But when it comes to what many around the world view as the new American classic look, J.Crew sits at the top of the list. Ralph Lauren may define how we want to live and Brooks Brothers certainly shows us how the East Coast ideal did (and still does) live, but J. Crew has tapped the soul of what American classic Ivy League means for today.
No other brand has captured this kind of lightening with such, dare I say, real love. And under the guidance of CEO Mickey Drexler and head menswear designer Frank Muytjens, they are by no means resting on their hand distressed laurels.
The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ. magazine caught up with Mickey Drexler for their recent cover story. Drexler has lead J.Crew’s big turn around in the last few years (after being famously fired from the Gap) and is called by Andy Spade, “the Steve Jobs of retail.”
It’s funny then, that we learn that it was Mr. Jobs himself who informed Drexler that he was about to be fired from Gap. But what’s it like to work for him? WSJ spent a day at J.Crew HQ.
WSJ Magazine Visits J. Crew’s Headquarters