J.Crew Creative Director Leaving in Wake of Sales Decline

Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s executive creative director of five years, is leaving the company, Fortune reported.

Mickey Drexler, the company’s CEO, said that Lyons and the company agreed on the departure.

Lyons oversaw the company’s presentation, both on a general level and in branding and product design. In a statement concerning Lyons’ exit, Drexler that she brought great talent together and contributed significantly to J.Crew. Lyons has been with J.Crew since 1990, and in 2010 was named president. During her time with the company, her designs were part of what shaped the brand’s style and popularity.

However, last fiscal year, J.Crew’s sales dropped 6.7%. That decline is part of a larger downward trend for the company; there was a decrease by 8.2% in 2015, following two previous years of comparative declines. The company also faces much of its debt due next year, and it owes about $1.5 billion.

Compare that to the annual $2 billion that the chain is making, and prospects look rocky. The retailer has been hurting so much that in 2015 it was written down by $1 billion. And it’s not the only fashion seller in trouble. Other retailers, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, have suffered recently amid consumer trends toward cheaper brands and bargain hunting.

Lyons was heading creative at a tough time for the industry, and she was overseeing during several company mishaps as well, according to Fortune. Quality issues and designs that failed to create a financial turnaround may have contributed to J.Crew’s recent struggles. Although its women’s denim label Madewell is doing well, the parent brand has some work to do to make a turnaround.

The now former creative director won’t exit the brand immediately. Instead, she’ll be with the company till December this year, acting as creative advisor.

In the wake of Lyons’ departure, J.Crew has no plans to fold, even though the creative director won’t be replaced. J.Crew will retire that title and has named Somsack Sikhounmuong the chief design officer. Before this promotion, Sikhounmuong was design lead for J.Crew women’s, and previously headed design for Madewell. Another change J.Crew has made is to open boutiques inside Nordstrom locations.

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