Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another Interview with J.Crew's Jenna Lyons

"Thanks!" to many of you, including Peggy, who let us know about the following article from Forbes. (Click here to read in its entirety.)
J.Crew's Jenna Lyons On Fashion, Lena Dunham And Why She's Not Posting On Instagram
By Blue Carreon
May 21, 2014

Jenna Lyons and the J.Crew design team and CEO Mickey Drexler are in Hong Kong to celebrate the opening of their expansion in Hong Kong, the first in Asia to have free-standing J.Crew stores. Below, I talk to Jenna about J.Crew and fashion, ...and why she refuses to join the social media craze. ...

Speaking of day jobs, congratulations on the stores. Two stores in Hong Kong. Last year when we met you were just exploring the idea of expansion.
I didn’t think a year ago that it would be happening now. It’s exciting. Designing a store internationally — it’s been easier than I’ve expected as we’ve had that experience with our London store. It’s gone pretty seamlessly. I am so happy with the stores.

Why do a separate store for men and women?
When we do combined stores they are larger and there aren’t really a lot of large footprints here and also what we’ve been gravitating to are smaller and more specialized experiences. We’ve seen men respond well to having an environment specifically geared towards them, with a staff focus on their needs. And that’s been a successful model for us. That doesn’t mean we won’t do a combined store it’s just that the real estate is not available and it’s all about location.

You’ve had a couple of seasons at Lane Crawford, what did you learn from that?
What it gave us was an understanding of the market. We weren’t sure if people would respond to the product. We had no idea. But we’ve had a tremendous response from the Lane Crawford team and their customers and that was very encouraging and it made us feel confident.

We also thought that potentially the style here would be different, that they would dress differently but the fact of the matter is is that style isn’t necessarily attached to a zip code.

How are you addressing concerns over slightly higher prices here compared to the US?
We’ve done everything we possibly can to address that. We’ve gone back and forth with Lane Crawford a lot to make sure that things are adjusted. We face import duties and taxes. We are doing our best to keep it as tight as possible but there are operating costs with doing business in a country that you are not based in. Unfortunately this is something we have to contend with but we’ve put a lot of attention on the pricing.

Where do you think women’s wear is heading?
I love seeing all the shifts in fashion and I see them in the office. It’s fun to watch. What is refreshing is that there is a degree of freedom on the girl’s side. Although the rules have been broken many times before, for some reason the rules are opening up a little bit more. The sense of being yourself and looking less like a cookie cutter is more accepted now than ever before. I appreciate that.

Do you think fashion is moving too fast?
Everything is moving too fast. It’s one of the reasons I am not on social media.  I do find it hard when you’re at an event and people are trying to record the event instead of experiencing it. People aren’t enjoying the moment. And they aren’t connecting with the people they meet. I have a busy life and I want to talk the person I am talking to and not be taking a picture with them. And to have access to everything all the time is exhausting.

How do you do it all at work? Be creative and do management responsibilities at the same time?
All the people I work with for the most part have been there for over 10 years. We’ve developed a set of understanding of what’s inside and what’s outside. So much of what I do is finding the best things that are happening in the building and connecting them to the other best things in the building. At the same time the bar is high and I want everything to be beautiful from the price tags to the labels to the way something smells, the way something is photographed. All these decisions, it’s not always easy. ...
My thoughts on this interview, in no particular order:
  • Jenna always does a great job with her interviews. She keeps it classy.
  • I appreciate the question/answer about the price discrepancies with international orders. I think transparency about the additional costs incurred helps customers understand why something is priced differently.
  • I could not agree more about styling not attached to a zip code. It use to be that certain cities (like Paris) would be a year ahead of trends. Thanks to fashion blogging, I find that the same trends are popping up everywhere at the same time, regardless of location. 
What are your thoughts on the article? Agree or disagree with any points made? Please share! :)