By Max Berlinger.
It’s the end of an era.
As part of a corporate restructuring at J.Crew, Frank Muytjens, the longtime head of menswear design, has left the company. As first reported by Business of Fashion, the company is eliminating around 250 positions, mostly on the corporate level, in an effort to scale back the business, which has been dealing with financial struggles in the past few years.
“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's departure comes shortly after the announcement that Jenna Lyons, who had been a long-serving president, creative director, and de facto face of the brand, was also leaving the company. In Lyons's place, Somsack Sikhounmuong was named chief design officer overseeing the men's, women's, and children's categories. This is just the latest in a string of developments that have roiled the retail industry, which is trying to adjust to customers who are spending more on experiences and travel rather than product, and who, thanks to the Internet, are primed to more readily search out discounts, rather than pay full price.
On the menswear front, J.Crew helped popularize the urban-outdoorsman look that helped define the early aughts—dark jeans, plaid shirt, heavy boots—a look that was popular with hipsters in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Portland. The company also brought on third-party collaborations to round out its in-house products, aligning itself more with popular boutique shopping, now an industry standard. Additionally, J.Crew helped introduce suiting to a new generation of dapper guys who wanted tailoring that was slim, not bulky, and its Ludlow suit is, in many ways, the suit of the 2000s so far.
Muytjens took on the role of head menswear designer in 2008 (right around the launch of J.Crew's Ludlow suit) from Todd Snyder, who struck out on his own, having cemented himself as a key player in the American menswear scene—Snyder even closed out the Fall/Winter 2016 men's edition of New York Fashion Week. In other words, J. Crew has served as a launchpad for a major design talent before. Will history repeat itself? We're hoping so, but only time will tell.
This story originally appeared on GQ.
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