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End of an era: J. Crew to file for bankruptcy protection

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

May 1, 2020

J.Crew, the upmarket preppy retailer that once was the king of America’s mall brands, is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection according to multiple media sources. The struggling retailer is one of several high-profile U.S. chains including Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney, that are on the verge of unraveling during the coronavirus pandemic.

The news was first disclosed by CNBC on Thursday, who said “J. Crew is preparing for a bankruptcy filing that could come this weekend.” The revelation is neither shocking or unexpected, as the company slowly unraveled over the last few years and is now allegedly seeking 400 million dollars to continue operations.

J. Crew’s halcyon days are long over

None of the creative and leadership team who led the company during its heyday – designers Jenna Lyons, Frank Muytjens and brand architect Mickey Drexler – are still with the group. All exited in 2017 after the brand consistently posted declining sales figures over several seasons. Following Lyons departure, Somsack Sikhounmuong was announced as the company’s new creative director, only to leave some five months later. Despite some promising quarters, neither sales or popularity returned the glorious levels of its halcyon days.

A once thriving company that steadfastly delivered an accessible version of American high fashion, the clothes and the imagery that once made them covetable became boring. “Somehow drained of spirit,” wrote Vanity Fair back in 2017. “And the headlines surrounding the company have been even worse. Since 2014, J. Crew has been steadily clacking back down the tracks it once ascended, shedding money and influence, not to mention executives.”

After multiple attempts at self-preservation, restructuring, debt-offloading and new leadership appointments J. Crew was already struggling financially before the pandemic hit, most notably from competition by online giants like Amazon. Whether or not it will successfully secure financing to remain operational, J. Crew is unlikely to recapture the magic it once held.

Photo credit: J.Crew, Facebook