Jenna Lyon’s unique personal style and quirky makeover of J.Crew may have won the hearts of the fashion set, but for J.Crew’s loyal customers, her presence has completely transformed the brand into something they don’t recognize. Since Lyons took charge of design at the retail chain, the classically preppy with a twist aesthetic began to skew more towards the twisted and further away from the classic.
J.Crew has seen their sales on the downturn, with the NY Post reporting that the retailer had a loss of $607.8 million in a year, and many are blaming Jenna for the decline. The Post points to customer qualms about the brand. It’s not that people don’t love Jenna Lyons (how could you not love a woman who wears feathered skirts and sequined sweatshirts on the reg?). It’s that most people can’t or don’t want to pull off the Jenna Lyons look themselves – especially at J.Crew’s lofty prices. It simply isn’t practical for the everyday person. “I think they’re designing for a very small subset of people who work and live in very specialized industries in New York,” Capitol Hill Style blogger Abra Belke says. “My boss still wears flesh-toned hose with her skirt suit. I can’t show up in a sequin pencil skirt.”
It’s clear that J.Crew needs to focus more on their loyal customer base – the types who just want a darn oxford shirt without a bunch of rhinestones attached to it – if they want to pull themselves out of this rut. It looks like the retailer’s future challenges will have to do with staying true to their original aesthetic while also maintaining the fashionable appeal it’s garnered under Lyons’ direction.