Last Tuesday evening, the J. Crew Men’s Shop in Georgetown was closed down for a private cocktail party with Frank Muytjens and an invited cross section of Washington D.C.’s style crowd. OTC was happy to be on the list.
Frank is the head menswear designer for J. Crew, so if you love the weathered updated East Coast, Ivy League look that defines the brand, you can thank him. I had the chance to chat with him about the J. Crew brand, it’s incredibly successful collaborations and what’s next for J. Crew.
One of the key aspects of J. Crew’s approach to menswear is to take the basics and make them better, but just slightly. As my dad, a genuine prep school Ivy Leaguer, recently said, “J. Crew is preppy amped up to the nth degree.”
As Frank puts it, “we look for the classics and tweak them just enough to keep them fresh.” This translates to leaner overall lines, trimmer legs and arms, higher armholes and more creative finishing. There aren’t many brands that can make a gray herringbone tweed sport coat (1) cool, and (2) comfortable enough to wear just lounging around the house. J. Crew does.
When it came to the issue of J. Crew’s inspired collaborations with some of the best known traditional “trad” brands, like old school shoemaker Alden, Frank explained that not all of them fell seamlessly into place. In the case of Alden, he told me that, “basically, we had to follow up with them a couple of times and explain what we wanted to do.” “The Indy boot and the longwing are classics and, since our company wasn’t really on their radar, they needed to figure out if this was a good fit for Alden.”
By all accounts, it sure is. I hope to get my hands on a pair of those fantastic shoes soon. I even took a shot of Frank’s pair – see below.