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J. Crew: Menswear Throughout the Ages | Cut & Show

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Jenna Lyons:

One of the things we've tried to achieve with the actual stores is having them feel like maybe J. Crew found a location in the neighborhood and in the night brought some clothes in.

Actually standing on a street

corner and how you feel when you're standing on the block is so incredibly important on how you actually select real estate. One of the things that's a huge advantage with the liquor stores is that neighborhood feels like I wanna have a beer. There's something really familiar about it and they're something kind of truly downtown.

We laugh about it. We really

looked at it as an experiment to really do something different that really broke the mode of what people had expected from us. Frank Muytjens: WhenJenna became creative director, she gave us total freedom on what we liked ourselves, what we were wering ourselves and the inspiration has always been men's wear throughout the ages. So we really like to look and pour over vintage reference samples. We were obsessed with details, with functionality and a certain kind of ruggedness, but also, kind of elegance, which pulls it into now. Jenna Lyons: It starts with the clothes,then goes the way we present them in the catalog, it goes to the way they're presented in the stores. For us, there's maintaining this brand and it's since of

masculinity but also a

sense of classic style.

Frank Muytjens:

So the great thing the free standing men's wear stores is that we can almost use them as a boutique. When I enter a store, I want to be enticed and I want to be wowed. I really like the feeling when you step into a store, the feeling of discovering something. And, I hope that our guy gets it as well as he enters J. Crew. We're interested in clothes but maybe not so much in trends, and we really believe in longevity. A guy always likes the oldest thing in his closet. If you ask a guy show me your favorite thing. He pulls out his twenty year old leather jacket. So, it's born out of love for vintage samples, functional details, trying to replicate him as truthfully as we could. Like we poured over buttons, over stitch collars, and

over fabrications which

are specially woven for us. For Wallace and Barnes, one of the barter points was also this defirmed haberdashery men's wear store in the dust bowl. Nobody has had these clothes for 50 years and even those were all bleached out already. You could still see the dust bowl garments in the windows. This about the store designs, they're all in different locations so you ask for a different approach. Like the liquor store had a bar and 1040 Madison had the volt, so we build around that. And instead of ignoring it we embrace it and work around it and make it hopefully better. Jenna Lyons: Context is everything.Put chino's next to t-shirts and a v-neck sweater at some point it just becomes, not interesting. Chino's next to the most perfect denim shirt, paired with a beautiful hillside tie, paired with a great Aldin shoe all of a sudden that context of that chino changes. And, so I think, you know the curation is something that is new for us over the last few years, but the thing that's changed the point of view of the customer and how they see us. Everything is what you put next to it. So it's just as important that the

thing that warehouse jean look

good can sometimes

be the absence of something.

What looks good on that rack and what looks good together and what are you going to feel good about when you walk in that store? Frank Muytjens: Many designer lines,it feels just very intuitive and it's about a feeling. So another thing which became really important in the J. Crew men's wear

collection is the thrift

party brands. It all started with Red Wing boots and then Levi's came in to play. And then at this one visit to Tokyo, I found this old pair of New Balance sneakers. I've always loved them because they were so understated and that became a collaboration you see in the stores. Like we have a 1400 in all these beautiful colors, they're exclusive to us, so that makes it even more special. If you recognize something from your past, from something you grew up with and you see it

again in this new context

you're one step ahead already.

Jenna Lyons:

Through all of this attention, from what you guys are doing to just the blogs out there, guys

are dressing up and caring

about how they look.

Frank Muytjens:

I'm really excited about how young men dress. What we try to do also, is give him different options, I think. What we do is in the men's store is a curated version of what a J. Crew is. It's only the best of the best. Jenna Lyons: I think thepeople you find in New York, respond to individuality, they respond to things that are interesting, they want to have a new experience.

What we've seen that men

are attracted to is a

sense of humor and also

a sense of intelligence. It's such an oxymoron, because we say "men don't shop." And yet, no one is making it comfortable for them to shop.

A visit to some of J Crew's specialty men's stores: the Liquor Store in Tribeca, the Men's Shop on the Upper East Side, and the flagship store in Flatiron, to learn a little more about the brand's evolution.

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