Retail Refugees

J. Crew and perspective on Retail
October 29, 2008, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Fashion, Stores | Tags: , , , , , had a great blog post with their interview with the new Creative Director for the American clothing company, J. Crew, the Dutch born Frank Muytjens. They discussed the future of the brand and the future of their retail projects.

Now that you’ve been in the big seat for all of a week, where do you see the menswear collection going?
I think that what we did with the Liquor Store brought us a lot of opportunities to experiment with an elevated product. But it’s more about evolving rather than just changing. Men need little steps.

Meaning what?
I don’t think guys appreciate or want change. They’re set in their ways. The trick is to give them something new without it looking too overly designed. To me it’s about fit, color, fabrication, and functional details. It’s also about proportions: The perfect collar and lapel on a sport coat, the perfect width of a tie, even the size of a button can make a difference.

How do your designs for J.Crew reflect that philosophy?
We pay a lot of attention to interior details, like silk-tie-fabric pockets in our sport coats, and contrast under collars. Our new topcoat has an amazing newspaper pocket on the inside that we found on a vintage garment. I’m also very excited about the fit of our new Ludlow suit, which we introduced in the Liquor Store. It has a sixties vibe to it, with details like pick stitching, functioning buttonholes, narrow lapels, and a canvas chest piece. It’s a bit more fitted and shorter than our regular suit.

So the Liquor Store’s become important to J.Crew’s identity?
Absolutely. I think that in the Liquor Store we found a new type of customer. I was in there the other day and saw John Slattery from Mad Men. That’s not the type of person who normally shops at J.Crew, but after they go to the Liquor Store, they’re looking at shopping with us again at our regular stores as well.

You’re opening a new menswear-only store in Paramus, New Jersey. Is it going to have the same feel as the Liquor Store?
Not necessarily. It will take some elements, but the Liquor Store was based around the neighborhood. In Paramus, we’re in the mall.

What will be different about it?
We can’t replicate the Liquor Store for obvious reasons—it’s its own little microcosm. But the store in the mall will definitely have a masculine vibe, an easy environment for a guy to shop in. I think a guy needs to be transported to a different world as soon as he enters a store. He needs to be tempted. A store should feel unexpected, familiar, and slightly nostalgic at the same time.


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