Over the past 26 years, Jenna Lyons has reshaped and refashioned J.Crew into the sleeve-cuffing, denim-loving American brand we know and adore today. This chapter of the retailer's history is apparently coming to a close: Business of Fashion revealed that, after more than two decades, Lyons will be departing the company. The brand confirmed the news this afternoon in a press release.
Lyons' most recent title at J.Crew was president and executive creative director — a big jump from the assistant menswear designer gig she began with when she joined the company in 1990 as a recent Parsons School of Design graduate. Ever since Mickey Drexler joined J.Crew in 2003 as CEO, she began to play a much more public-facing role at the brand — both as a spokesperson for the retailer, and as an instrumental figure in de-preppy-fying the brand. (Lyons is known for her impeccable but never try-hard personal style.) In light of her departure, Somsack Sikhounmuong, who's served as the brand's head womenswear designer since he moved from Madewell in 2015, will be promoted to chief design officer, according to the brand's statement.
"It has been beyond my wildest dreams to work with such an amazing team of people at such an incredible brand and alongside Mickey — one of retail’s most talented visionaries," Lyons told BoF. "I am excited about the next chapter for J.Crew as well as the opportunity for other creative leaders within the organisation to step up and take on new responsibilities." Drexler noted to the publication that the decision was mutual, after he and Lyons sat down and "both agreed it was time for a change." He also teased that "she's got plans to do other things" — although he didn't divulge where the designer is headed next.
Drexler reiterated the company's commitment to and faith in Sikhounmuong's vision and aesthetic direction for J.Crew in the company's release. Recent sales reports, however, paint a much less optimistic picture for the brand: total revenue for 2016 was down by 3.2%, according to WWD — and predictions for 2017 weren't much better. For now, all eyes will likely be on Lyons, eagerly anticipating her next move.