It’s the end of an era. Per Business of Fashion, Jenna Lyons’ 26-year tenure at J.Crew has come to a close. Lyons will be stepping down as president and creative director of the brand but will continue on as a creative advisor through the end of 2017 when her contract expires. Somsack Sikhounmuong, the current head of women’s design at J.Crew and former head of design at Madewell, will succeed Lyon as the company’s chief design officer. Sikhounmuong will oversee the men’s, women’s and crewcuts (children’s) collections.
“Jenna and I got together and we both agreed it was time for a change,” J.Crew chief executive Mickey Drexler told BoF. “That being said, she’s got plans to do other things. It’s been a great run. There’s a lot of mutual respect between Jenna and me.”
“It has been beyond my wildest dreams to work with such an amazing team of people at such an incredible brand and alongside Mickey — one of retail’s most talented visionaries,” said Lyons in a statement. “I am excited about the next chapter for J.Crew as well as the opportunity for other creative leaders within the organization to step up and take on new responsibilities. Having spent the better part of my life with J.Crew, I feel an immense pride and love for everyone at the company.”
It’s as difficult to imagine a J.Crew sans Jenna Lyons as it is to picture Lyons without her signature “birth control glasses.” Her quirky, alt-prep aesthetic is literally built into the brand’s DNA. However, while Lyons certainly put J.Crew on the map, it’s clear that the company is due for a change, structurally speaking. Quarter over quarter, J.Crew reports losses. It’s currently $1.5 billion in debt and, according to WWD, fighting with creditors. And while changing retail trends are partly to blame, J.Crew’s dissatisfied yet diehard fanbase has long made its gripes with the company’s newer offerings known. (There’s even a #ReviveJCrew hashtag circulating.)
Will a change in leadership turn J.Crew’s boat around? Who will recruit their friends to star in the company’s Spring 2018 presentation if not its resident cool girl? What will the creative force that is Jenna Lyons do next? We have so many questions.