Jenna Lyons Addresses J.Crew’s Recent Struggles

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Since she’s coming up on 25 years at J.Crew, Jenna Lyons sat down with Glamour for a recap of how she made it from an “assistant to an assistant” to the brand’s president, creative director, and de facto face. During her interview, she addressed the company’s recent spate of financial ups and downs and the bad press that has accompanied them. “While it hurts and it’s not fun, you have to remember that everyone’s a critic these days,” she says. “At the end of the day, I’m doing this because I enjoy it … Whether the articles are good or bad, I get paid to play with sequins and color and cashmere, and that’s awesome.”

Even the notorious Tilly cardigan, on which J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler pinned many of the company’s recent failings, comes in for discussion. “I know, poor Tilly! It kept getting mentioned over and over again. We had had misses in our sweater business, so it sort of became the beacon for the miss. It took on a life of its own,” Lyons recalls. “The Tilly has to take some responsibility, as we all do in this building.”

Meanwhile, J.Crew Mercantile, the offshoot of the brand that Drexler, until recently, denied was going forward, seems to be coalescing. BuzzFeed has obtained a company memo saying that outposts won’t be confined to traditional outlet settings but “will open in local retail centers and shopping malls, where you would not currently find a J.Crew or Factory store.” However, the merchandise in question will be the same as that at the existing Factory stores, rather than being a lower-priced diffusion line. We have a feeling there will be plenty of leftover Tillys in the mix.

Jenna Lyons Addresses J.Crew’s Recent Struggles