J.Crew hires Supreme alum as new menswear designer
New York-based fashion retailer J.Crew Group announced on Monday that it has appointed former Supreme design director Brendon Babenzien as the new creative director of J.Crew Men’s.
In his new role, Babenzien will lead menswear design at the J.Crew brand, working to redefine the iconic American label’s aesthetic in collaboration with recently appointed J.Crew Group CEO Libby Wadle. According to a release from the brand, he is expected to bring his “free-thinking point of view and visionary focus on responsible business models” to the position.
Babenzien’s appointment is effective immediately and his first full collection for J.Crew is set to launch in the second half of 2022.
The designer spent more than a decade as design director at Supreme, a period during which his creative vision helped turn a relatively niche skate brand into a global streetwear powerhouse.
In 2002, Babenzien took a break from Supreme to found menswear brand Noah, before leaving the streetwear label definitively in 2015. He then relaunched Noah in collaboration with his wife, Estelle Bailey-Babenzien. The brand, which adopted a greater focus on sustainability with its second launch, now boasts locations in New York, London, LA and Tokyo.
“Brendon is a singular talent in the fashion world. He's a true storyteller, and it's that depth of vision and creativity that have led to his proven ability to build beloved brands that customers obsess over,” said Wadle in the company’s release. “His unique point of view, willingness to take risks and insider status will be invaluable to J.Crew's commitment to step outside ourselves and disrupt our brand and the industry in a progressive way.”
“J.Crew has always been a part of my life – quietly, subtly in the background, slowly becoming the platform from which to build my personal style,” added Babenzien. “I'm excited to join the team and build a positive future that meets the interests of the thoughtful consumers that exist today, satisfying not just their sophisticated taste level but their demands for responsible business practices.”
J.Crew Group, which also owns the Madewell brand, filed for bankruptcy in May of last year and emerged from the process in September. Wadle took over as CEO in November, following the departure of Jan Singer after less than a year in the role.
The company’s namesake flagship brand has been slow to adapt to trends, both in terms of product and delivery. Having established itself as a popular purveyor of preppy fashion in the 90’s, the retailer has had less luck in the era of streetwear and had been struggling with declining sales long before the Covid-19 pandemic tipped it into bankruptcy last year.
The arrival of Babenzien is part of a wider repositioning strategy taking place at the company post-bankruptcy, which will also see the group focus on the integration of “frictionless” cross-platform shopping.
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