Pret-a-Reporter

Jenna Lyons Exits J.Crew After 26 Years

Steve Zak Photography/FilmMagic
Jenna Lyons

The designer first joined the retailer as an assistant menswear designer before becoming the president of the company.

Jenna Lyons is leaving J.Crew.

The creative director is exiting the preppy retailer after 26 years, the company confirmed Monday. Lyons will remain as a creative advisor until her contract expires in December 2017.

"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," Lyons said in a statement. "Having spent the better part of my life with J.Crew, I feel an immense pride and love for everyone at the company."

J.Crew chief executive Millard "Mickey" Drexler added, “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Jenna as my trusted partner for the past 14 years. She has made many significant contributions to J.Crew and has built an incredibly talented team. J.Crew is focused on continuing the progress underway as we execute on our strategic initiatives and position the company for the long term.

Business of Fashion first reported the news.

A native of Palos Verdes, Lyons started as an assistant menswear designer for J.Crew in 1990 and climbed up the ranks to become vice president of women’s design in 2003. In 2010, Drexler appointed her to be president of the company. In her role, she became a relatively public figure, filming guest appearances on television shows Project Runway and Girls.

Somsack Sikhounmuong, the current J.Crew women’s head of design who previously led sister brand Madewell, will become chief designer officer, effective immediately.

At its height in 2011, under the helm of Lyons and Drexler, the company's sales were just short of $2 billion. First lady fashion plate Michelle Obama, a noted fan of the American label, was often spotted wearing the brand's pencil skirts, cardigans and kitten heels, which helped boost the company’s stock.

However, the last few years have seen falling sales and staff layoffs as the brand has struggled to compete against fast-fashion giants.

Lyons has yet to announce her next step.

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