I’ve been a J.Crew afficianado my entire life and felt like this book was written just for me! It details the history of J.Crew from a no-name mail-order catalog to the behemoth it is today. Reading about the trajectory of this all-American company was fascinating, especially with the recent announcement of former CEO Jenna Lyons as a cast member on Bravo’s latest NYC Housewives drama. A solid read for those interested in retail, marketing, and branding, served with a dash of behind the scenes gossip.— Liz
One of Vogue's most anticipated books of 2023.
A quintessentially American fashion narrative about the rise and fall of the first lifestyle brand, J.Crew, and what the company's fate means for the shifting landscape of the retail industry.
Once upon a time, a no-frills J.Crew rollneck sweater held an almost mystical power--or at least it felt that way. The story of J.Crew is the story of the original "lifestyle brand," whose evolution charts a sea change in the way we dress, the way we shop, and who we aspire to be over the past four decades--all told through iconic clothes and the most riveting characters imaginable.
In The Kingdom of Prep, seasoned fashion journalist Maggie Bullock tells J.Crew's epic story for the first time, bringing to life the deliciously idiosyncratic people who built a beloved brand, unpacking the complex legacy of prep--a subculture born on the 1920s campuses of the Ivy League--and how one brand rose to epitomize "American" style in two very different golden eras, and also eventually embodied the "retail apocalypse" that rocked the global fashion industry and left hollowed-out malls across the country.
In a juicy business narrative rich with humor and insight, Bullock combines the colorful characters of The Devil Wears Prada, the business insight of Deluxe, and the nostalgia factor of True Prep, to chart J.Crew's origin story, its Obama-era heyday, and its brush-with-death decline through the stories of the mercurial characters who helmed the company. There is founder Arthur Cinader, who set out to sell the Ralph Lauren look for half the price, and his daughter Emily, who turned J.Crew into a new campus uniform, and then a temple to '90s minimalism. Then came ex-Gap CEO Mickey Drexler--the most renowned (and controversial) retailer of his generation--who took J.Crew to a never-before-seen peak, only to contribute to its financial disaster, and the brilliant designer Jenna Lyons, who rose from the anonymous ranks of a catalogue company to become a star in her own right, but burned so bright she left J.Crew in her shadow.
Through extensive interviews with more than 100 J.Crew insiders and top industry experts, Bullock crafts an impossible-to-put-down, neon-glitter-sprinkled tale that traces the trajectory of American style, invites us into the inner sanctum of fashion's most bold-faced names, and weaves together the threads of style, finance, and culture like no other brand's story in our lifetime.