J. Crew executive creative director and president Jenna Lyons is leaving the national retailer. A 26-year veteran of the company, Lyons will remain as a creative advisor until the end of her current contract, which expires in December 2017. She has not disclosed her future plans.
Lyons will be replaced by current women’s head of design Somsack Sikhounmuong, who is being immediately promoted to chief design officer and will now oversee the women’s, men’s and children’s design teams effective immediately. He has been with J.Crew since 2001, in senior design roles, and from 2013-2015 served as Head of Design for sister company Madewell.
The decision was a mutual one between Lyons and J.Crew’s CEO, Millard Drexler. He is not planning to replace Lyons, and all other creative departments will report to him in the future. “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. We have taken important steps to improve our performance and are confident that the team in place will continue these efforts,” said Drexler. “Somsack and our design teams have a deep understanding of the aesthetic and style our customers rely on J.Crew to deliver, with a proven track record of driving creative vision in-line with our brand DNA. We are excited to extend Somsack’s vision across all design categories and look forward to the team’s contributions. As always, delivering the very best product, value and brand experience across channels is our top priority. We look forward to this next chapter and thank Jenna for her continued dedication to our team and passion for our brand.”
Lyons, who had become the well-recognized face of the retailer, had both many fans and detractors, especially as the privately-held company faced tough financial times. Last month, the company released disappointing results for both Fiscal 2016 and the fourth quarter. J.Crew brand sales decreased decreased 6 percent to $2,018.1 million, while comparable sales decreased 8 percent for Fiscal 2016, and sales decreased 5 percent to $572.6 million, while comparable sales decreased 7 percent in the fourth quarter.
“It has been beyond my wildest dreams to work with such an amazing team of people at such an incredible brand and alongside Mickey — one of retail’s most talented visionaries,” said Lyons. “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. Having spent the better part of my life with J.Crew, I feel an immense pride and love for everyone at the Company as well as for our loyal J.Crew customers. I look forward to supporting our team through this natural transition.”