The departure of Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s longtime creative director, spurred a spate of excellent pieces by veteran reporters on the retail beat. Fast Company weighed in here on what they view as Lyons’ legacy—her crucial role, along with company CEO Mickey Drexler, in making luxury affordable, a mantle that has been picked up by many startups.
The New York Times’ fashion reporters Vanessa Friedman and Elizabeth Paton weighed in on Lyons’ unique role as a visible designer at a mass brand, and what her departure means for that strategy. The entire, relatively brief, piece, is quite thought-provoking—here’s a representative quote:
“Yet for most consumer brands, of which J.Crew is one, the designer is almost beside the point; a leader whose name most consumers never know. (Does the Gap have a creative face? L.L. Bean? Target? Ann Taylor? Theory?) Rather, it’s the merchant who matters.
But J. Crew was different.
The company achieved its initial turnaround in part by taking the tools of high fashion and applying them to the mass market. Including—especially—making the designer the embodiment of the brand as a shortcut to authenticity and attitude.”
Finally, Bloomberg’s Shelly Banjo details the company’s pressing business problems and some potential solutions here.
Separately, Amazon’s policy of not sharing much information is a source of frustration for journalists (and, obviously, analysts). In this article, Racked’s Chavie Lieber did an excellent job of overcoming the traditional obstacles with a deep dive into the company’s apparel business.
Faye Landes, co-founder and general partner of Back to the Future Ventures, advises emerging consumer and retail companies on strategy, branding and fundraising. She was one of Wall Street’s leading consumer and retail analysts for over 20 years and was widely recognized for her ability to anticipate sweeping trends, such as the widespread adoption of activewear. She has frequently appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and other media outlets and has presented at industry conferences all over the world. Read her “Analyst’s Take” column here weekly.