J.Crew files for bankruptcy protection

Executives at J.Crew have filed for bankruptcy protection amid a major restructure.On Monday morning, bosses at the American retailer announced that they had filed a series of customary “first day” motions with the Bankruptcy Court so they can maintain…

Executives at J.Crew have filed for bankruptcy protection amid a major restructure.

On Monday morning, bosses at the American retailer announced that they had filed a series of customary “first day” motions with the Bankruptcy Court so they can maintain operations while undergoing the process and to help facilitate a “smooth transition” into Chapter 11.

According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, a Chapter 11 filing permits reorganisation under the bankruptcy laws. Typically, the J.Crew boutiques and the brand’s Madewell stores would be able to remain open, but the coronavirus crisis has curtailed any such plans.

“This agreement with our lenders represents a critical milestone in the ongoing process to transform our business with the goal of driving long-term, sustainable growth for J.Crew and further enhancing Madewell’s growth momentum,” said Jan Singer, chief executive officer, J.Crew Group. “Throughout this process, we will continue to provide our customers with the exceptional merchandise and service they expect from us, and we will continue all day-to-day operations, albeit under these extraordinary Covid-19-related circumstances. As we look to reopen our stores as quickly and safely as possible, this comprehensive financial restructuring should enable our business and brands to thrive for years to come.”

As part of the Transaction Support Agreement (TSA), the company’s lenders will convert approximately $1.65 billion of its debt into equity.

In addition, Madewell will remain part of J.Crew Group, with Libby Wadle to continue in her role as chief executive officer.

“J.Crew and Madewell are two classic American brands with deeply loyal customers. We look forward to supporting Jan, Libby and the management team to recognise their full potential. The significant deleveraging contemplated by this agreement, coupled with J.Crew Group’s strategy to strengthen its robust e-commerce platform to drive continued growth in its direct-to-consumer segment, will position the company for future success,” insisted Kevin Ulrich, chief executive officer of Anchorage Capital Group.

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J. Crew hires former Victoria’s Secret boss as chief executive officer

J.Crew bosses have appointed Jan Singer as the fashion company’s new chief executive officer.Singer, who served as head of lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret from 2016 until late 2018, will now take the reins at the American retailer, succeeding interim …

J.Crew bosses have appointed Jan Singer as the fashion company’s new chief executive officer.

Singer, who served as head of lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret from 2016 until late 2018, will now take the reins at the American retailer, succeeding interim leader Michael J. Nicholson.

“I’m excited and honoured to join this iconic brand and team at such an important time,” she said in a statement. “For me, J.Crew has led specialty retail by knowing what it takes to be a brand – putting the consumer first and at the centre. My passion for developing product, brand experiences and teams feels very at home at J.Crew. It’s a beloved brand that has always been in my heart and, like millions of consumers, in my closet.”

Singer will officially start work at J.Crew on 2 February. She has more than 25 years of experience of positioning brands for long-term growth and was previously responsible for Victoria Secret’s $4 billion lingerie business across 1,000 stores and digital platforms, and also served in senior roles at shapewear company Spanx and sportswear label Nike.

Accordingly, J.Crew president Michael J. Nicholson is thrilled to have Singer onboard.

“Jan’s appointment as chief executive officer is an important milestone for our company,” he said. “With these key building blocks in place, it is an opportune time for J.Crew to bring on a leader with a proven track record in positioning brands for success. It has been an honour to lead this organisation over the past year and I would like to extend my gratitude to each and every associate for their relentless support, passion and contributions towards rebuilding our company. It is an exciting time for J.Crew, and I look forward to partnering with Jan as we further energise our businesses and teams.”

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J. Crew taps Chris Benz as womenswear designer

J.Crew has hired Chris Benz as the new head of women’s design.The American designer leaves his post as the creative director at Bill Blass for his new role at the struggling label.As well as heading up womenswear, Benz will also be in charge of Crewc…

J.Crew has hired Chris Benz as the new head of women’s design.

The American designer leaves his post as the creative director at Bill Blass for his new role at the struggling label.

As well as heading up womenswear, Benz will also be in charge of Crewcuts, J.Crew’s children’s brand.

Benz has history with the brand, and began his career under former creative director Jenna Lyons in 2005 when he was fresh out of Parsons School of Design.

“J.Crew is where I started my career and I have always loved the inspired mix of things – colour and pattern, texture and quality – that defines it,” he gushed in a statement to Business of Fashion. “I look forward to innovating on the brand’s essential classics to create an eclectic American style that is both polished and unique, and revives J.Crew as a destination where everyone can find something special.”

Since Lyons’ departure in 2017, after 26 years at the brand, J. Crew has struggled to find a steady replacement. Long-term employee Somsack Sikhounmuong, who was initially drafted in, left after five months in the role, with the most recent chief design officer, Johanna Uurasjarvi, calling it quits after an eight-month sting that began in June (18).

They are also still without a CEO, after Jim Brett left the company last fall.

In an official statement, label bosses said: “The company recognised the need for a fresh perspective from someone who understood the importance of the brand’s heritage and style to give consumers the designs they have come to expect from the iconic company. Chris Benz’s colourful, distinct aesthetic complements J. Crew’s own.

“These necessary and significant changes are part of the company’s efforts to revitalize the J. Crew brand among consumers, while also becoming more productive and more profitable in the process.”

Chief administrative officer Lynda Markoe added to BoF that she is “thrilled” to welcome Benz back.

“His creative aesthetic and refined perspective on the brand is the perfect complement to the heritage of J.Crew and will allow him to evolve our women’s collection in a way that is authentic and relevant,” she added.

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Jenna Lyons making fashion return with TV series

Jenna Lyons is stepping back into the style spotlight with a new TV show.The former head of J. Crew is not a total stranger to working on the small screen, having previously acted as judge on The Fashion Fund, as well as nabbing an acting role in Lena …

Jenna Lyons is stepping back into the style spotlight with a new TV show.

The former head of J. Crew is not a total stranger to working on the small screen, having previously acted as judge on The Fashion Fund, as well as nabbing an acting role in Lena Dunham’s Girls, but she’ll now be at the helm of a totally new series, after teaming with executives at Turner Entertainment.

The unscripted show will be bringing together fashion, home, and lifestyle, with viewers able to purchase what they see onscreen via an e-commerce site.

“There’s something about this that is connected, real, fun,” Jenna said, according to Vogue. “I am terrified, but that’s a good thing; being in unfamiliar territory feels welcome. One thing that is nice, and I am happy about is that there is no legacy here; we have nothing to live up to other than our own expectations.”

Jenna left her role as creative director and president of U.S. brand J. Crew in 2017, and while she holds a position on the Council of Fashion Designers of America Board of Directors, has kept largely out of fashion over the last 18 months.

Her new Turner series will air in 2019, and Jenna admitted she’s learned a lot during her hiatus.

“In the time I wasn’t working, I was helping my friends who’d perhaps bought a new place and wanted to redo the bathroom, or friends who were getting ready for events or for the prom,” she shared. “Those were things that might have been easy for me, but sometimes people are too embarrassed to ask for help. The point is, everyone can be beautiful; everything can be beautiful. What’s different about this is that I’m not focusing on just one aesthetic – if we redo a room, it could be modern, or preppy, or eclectic, and I can love them all. I’m not selling my idea of what something should be. I’m here to help create.”

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J. Crew launches plus-size offerings

J. Crew is offering curvy customers clothes for the first time after teaming with plus-size brand Universal Standard.Posting the news on Instagram, the U.S. retailer showed off some of the new designs in a video clip with the help of IMG model Precious…

J. Crew is offering curvy customers clothes for the first time after teaming with plus-size brand Universal Standard.

Posting the news on Instagram, the U.S. retailer showed off some of the new designs in a video clip with the help of IMG model Precious Lee.

“Meet @universalstandard for J.Crew… a first-of-its-kind collection of modern essentials for every body,” the caption reads. “We asked five women we admire to try it out & share their style philosophy. First up: @preciousleexoxo. Link in bio to learn more. #setyourstandard.”

In the clip, Precious can be seen twirling around in the label’s high-low maxi dress and also the French terry slit skirt with track stripe teamed with a simple black T-shirt.

“J. CREW Y’ALL! The movement continues,” Precious said in her own Instagram page.

The label also tapped Diana Veras Katherine Howe, Clementine Desseaux and Christine Petric, who have a diverse range of bodies, to model the collection, which is available to buy now.

Sizes range from XXS to 5X in the J. Crew X Universal Standard capsule collection, and nothing costs more than $250 (£188).

Talking about the new line, Lisa Greenwald, J. Crew’s Chief Merchandising Officer, said this is just the start for more inclusive sizing.

“We’re honoured to have partnered with Universal Standard on this collection, which kicks off a much larger rollout of extended sizes, new fits, and fabrications across the brand. We’re on a mission to make great style available to everyone,” Lisa shared in a statement.

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Zosia Mamet and Evan Jonigkeit model J.Crew’s new charity T-shirt

Zosia Mamet and husband Evan Jonigkeit are promoting J. Crew’s new line of charitable T-shirts.American retailer J. Crew has teamed with civil rights organisation Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on a line of tops which bear the slogan “Love first”, and are…

Zosia Mamet and husband Evan Jonigkeit are promoting J. Crew’s new line of charitable T-shirts.

American retailer J. Crew has teamed with civil rights organisation Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on a line of tops which bear the slogan “Love first”, and are available in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes, and three sock designs.

To celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month, J.Crew will be donating 50 per cent of the purchase price of the T-shirts and socks to HRC, and Zosia and Evan are happy to be part of the project.

“Five years ago, I met this human and experienced the joy of falling in love with him. My love for him and his for me have taught me more about myself and the world than any other life experience I’ve had to date (sic),” Zosia posted on Instagram next to a picture of her and Evan in the tees. “But most of all it has taught me that love makes us better beings. And it is also a choice, to love. My hope for the world is that we all make that choice more often, to lead with love. Love for each other and for ourselves. Because with love comes understanding and with understanding comes acceptance and with acceptance comes peace. George Sand said, ‘There is only one happiness in this life, to love and to be loved.'”

The Girls star finished her message by thanking J. Crew and HRC for spreading the love first message, and Evan for his love.

X-Men: Days of Future Past actor Evan shared his own message on Instagram, explaining how important the LGBTQ community is to him, and even though “great strides in equality” have been made, there is still a long way to go.

The T-shirts are priced from $33 to $50.50 (£24 – £38), while the socks cost $19 (£14) each.

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