Fashion has a ridiculously short memory. Take J. Crew, for example. We’re pretty sure it wasn’t too long ago that the mass-market retailer was more or less indistinguishable from The Gap, what with its prep-friendly range of high-rise khakis, $40 cable knit sweaters, and the occasional peacoat.
But thanks to the entree of C.E.O-cum-magician Mickey Drexler and creative director Jenna Lyons, there is a definite chic in the chain. Gone is the drab, dress code-approved garb, and in it’s place is some serious Mo-Bama endorsed fashion cred, not to mention higher price tags — $300 satchels, anyone?
And now, with the transformation of Frankenstein proportions nearly complete, comes the news that the all American chain has opened itself up to the U.K. market via Net-A-Porter. Yes, that Net-A-Porter — the same one that sells Chloe, Marchessa and Valentino. Well, if we can have TopShop then we suppose the Brits have a right to enjoy all the red, white and blue glory that is J. Crew.
Still, we can’t help but attempt to piece together at what point exactly J. Crew became a full-fledged, Net-A-Porter approved luxury brand? Our best guess is that it happened somewhere amidst the Michelle Obama’s sunshine cardigan on the Jay Leno Show, Erin Wasson fronting their catalogue, and the recession — which, as we know, drove even the most fashion faithful to the sale racks.
So as much as we bemoan the uptick in prices (since it drives us to bankruptcy every season), you’ve got to admire their image overhaul. Because what’s more fashion-y than a makeover?
And hey, if worked for J.Crew, maybe mass-market, mom-friendly retailers like Ann Taylor and Talbots might just be able to stage some mall madness of their own. (Because, god knows, they’re trying.)