For much of the past decade, J. Crew has been ground zero for the super-trendy urban-lumberjack look, but now the man responsible for it has been felled.
The brand's head menswear designer, Frank Muytjens, is leaving the company after 9 years. His departure comes after a corporate restructuring that's cutting a number of high-ranking (and high-paid) positions, and it was previously announced that head womenswear designer Jenna Lyons would be stepping down near the end of the year.
Overall, 250 people will be let go. “We are streamlining our teams as we evolve our business and processes to cater to the new demands of the retail industry,” said J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler in a statement. “While challenging, we know what needs to be done and this is a critical step to position J.Crew for the future. We are committed to treating impacted associates with respect and support through this period of change.”
Muytjens wasn't as well known as Lyons — whose '70s-nerdy glasses were the face of the brand in countless magazine articles and whose designs were favored by the likes of Michelle Obama — but his influence was huge in how guys of all stripes have dressed in the aughts: He brought in cool workwear staples like actually-stylish denim shirts and flannels; built up the Ludlow suit line, which offered high-fashion tailoring at a reasonable price; introduced collaborations with brands like Nike; and made the mix so cool that it earned a runway show in New York Fashion Week.
But despite J. Crew's increased profile, its offerings had begun to stale in last few years, and its financial performance has been disastrous: Sales dropped 3% in 2016 and the company posted a $23 million loss, and this year a $2 billion (that's right — billion) loan is coming due.
How much danger is the mall-brand staple in, both financially and stylistically? That will become clear in the coming months. Although Lyons's deputy is taking over her duties, Muytjens's replacement has yet to be announced.