J. Crew Group has named Brendon Babenzien, the cofounder of the Noah males’s put on model and former design director at Supreme, artistic director of J. Crew Males’s.
It’s a important appointment to assist deliver again the vitality J. Crew has been lacking for years. Whereas the model nonetheless has relevance and client recognition, it’s suffered from declining gross sales at occasions because of high quality and design points. Underneath the burden of heavy debt and the impression of the pandemic, J. Crew Group filed for Chapter 11 in Might 2020 and accomplished a four-month restructuring course of involving sharply lowering its debt and bringing in new possession. The corporate transformed $1.6 billion of its $1.7 billion in debt into fairness, establishing Anchorage Capital Group LLC as its majority proprietor.
Babenzien will work alongside Libby Wadle, chief govt officer of J. Crew Group, to “redefine the enduring model merging the vitality and creativity of in the present day’s type subcultures with an progressive appreciation of traditional males’s put on,” J. Crew stated in a press release.
J. Crew credited Babenzien with having been instrumental in elevating Supreme from “a distinct segment skate put on model to the worldwide stage” and constructing the Noah label right into a high-quality, environmentally acutely aware males’s put on model difficult the established order with a imaginative and prescient incorporating skate, surf and music cultures with an appreciation of traditional males’s put on.
“My work at Supreme and Noah has actually ready me extra for the enterprise aspect of issues — understanding merchandising and having an excellent deal with on product improvement and timelines. However past that, what has actually ready me for this place is my private life,” Babenzien stated in an interview. “I’ve been a lifelong J. Crew buyer and my private type is rooted in American tradition, which is perpetually evolving. I’ve lived by so many moments in American tradition which have knowledgeable the place we’re in the present day — for instance, ’80s preppy and the rise of skate and surf as a tradition and finally an trade.
“Musically talking,” Babenzien added, “I’ve lived by the publish punk and New Wave eras, to not point out the origins of hip-hop and past. All of those moments had distinctive types and contributed to the place we’re as a society. Having firsthand expertise with all of those cultures and being keenly focused on pushing society ahead in a optimistic course is the actual sauce with regards to creating. With that in thoughts, my imaginative and prescient for J. Crew is a return to enjoyable and creativity.”
Requested if he’s embarking on a reinvention of J. Crew, Babenzien replied, “I actually don’t suppose you’ll be able to or ought to reinvent a model like J. Crew. I believe the main focus needs to be on evolution.”
As for what sort of man wears or will put on J. Crew, he responded, “I don’t suppose it’s so simple as selecting a kind. The world is evolving. Folks will shock you all day, day by day. We’ll embrace this actuality and deal with giving all guys the best-quality and -designed product we will create. From there, we are going to deal with encouraging individuals to be artistic with their decisions and deal with their particular person type.”
He stated there are alternatives in each class. “Clearly, there might be some that may at all times outperform others, however our intention is to create optimistic change in all classes. I’m actually trying ahead to creating extra of a dialogue between the classes by permitting styling to play a a lot bigger function in informing our clients. With that stated, I believe now we have an amazing alternative in energetic and out of doors, each with our personal collections and thru collaborators.
“I believe individuals can anticipate us to extend third-party model relationships alongside related collaborations, significantly in outerwear and footwear,” Babenzien stated. “My historical past is full of model partnerships, so naturally I’ll deliver my information and expertise with me. I’ll take the identical artistic method to partnerships that I’ve pursued for years so I believe you’ll be able to anticipate to see music, movie and even literary collaborations. I don’t suppose there are essentially any limits to manufacturers collaborating so long as each events take an trustworthy method and genuinely need to work collectively to create one thing unbelievable.”
“Brendon is a singular expertise within the style world. He’s a real storyteller, and it’s that depth of imaginative and prescient and creativity which have led to his confirmed capacity to construct beloved manufacturers that clients obsess over,” Wadle stated. “His distinctive standpoint, willingness to take dangers and insider standing might be invaluable to J. Crew’s dedication to step exterior ourselves and disrupt our model and the trade in a progressive approach.”
Babenzien’s first full assortment for the J. Crew model is scheduled to debut within the second half of 2022. He fills a task that has been vacant for the reason that departure of Frank Muytjens in April 2017, when a company restructuring leading to many departures was triggered. Muytjens’s departure occurred shortly after Jenna Lyons, who had been a long-serving president and inventive director, additionally left the corporate.