After reading the Fast Company account on how J.Crew's most successful collaborators came to be, we figured out the one major step to putting your brand on the map: land a J.Crew collaboration. Yes, it's that simple. Goldsign, Lulu Frost, The Laundress — some of these brands wouldn't be where they are now if it weren't for J.Crew's most powerful duo, CEO/chairman Mickey Drexler and president/chief creative officer Jenna Lyons, signing them on. And while the Fast Company article details the stories behind the collaboration successes, there were three distinct takeaways we've permanently noted in the Moleskines of our minds.
Be Ballsy — We're big advocates of this. Huge. And while we may have some personal moments of fearlessness that have steered us in the right direction, the same applies to Adriano Goldschmied's brand, Goldsign jeans. According to the tale, the company shipped a package containing a pair of its denim pieces to Lyons — without attaching a note. Sure, a letter of flattery could have helped, but they let their product speak for itself. And soon after Lyons slipped into them, Goldschmied found himself to be one half of J.Crew's most famous denim collaboration.
Let Mickey Drexler Charm You (Because, c'mon you can't help it) — Worried that they might be considered sellouts, Brooklyn-based tie company The Hill-side was weary of partnering with a major retailer. As they tell Fast Company, "It's like not wanting your favorite punk band to sign with a major label when you're a teenager." But after some pretty darn convincing conversations with Drexler, the indie brand willingly entered into a partnership. They have since maintained a long-term relationship with J.Crew, joining forces on 15 collections to date.
Stick To Your Guns (But Don't Be Afraid Of Change) — Perhaps that sounds contradictory to our previous point, but hear us out. Timex and New Balance have also launched partnerships with J.Crew, and while we're all for a good business relationship, the best ones should bring out the best in both parties — especially when they are already both individually well-respected. For instance, with the creation of the Timex for J.Crew watches, the collab not only honored the watch brand, but also infused the J.Crew touch that lead to new designs for a timeless (pun-intended) product. There's no need to throw out the old handbook, but the ability to evolve your products can mean the difference between success and J.Crew-collab success.
Of course, there are tons more takeaways — especially where Drexler and Lyons are concerned — and anecdotes that give us a peek into the success of the J.Crew partnerships. Whether you're a designer looking to make your mass-market arrival, or simply turn your passion into a profit, we highly recommend a full read of the inspiring Fast Company feature.