Under gray skies and the first honest wisps of fall, J.Crew unveiled its latest Men's Shop on Madison Avenue in New York City.
For a brand whose rep has been synonymous with rep stripes, wide wale corduroy and the Ivy League uniform, it's surprising that it took J.Crew this long to arrive in the neighborhood, since the Upper East Side is certainly the nexus of all that. Located on the corner of 79th Street, in a space formally occupied by a bank, the store is in many ways the apogee of J.Crew's recent menswear translation of preppy as Nantucket by way of Japan. The shop itself feels like an Alpine lodge, with knotty pine wood paneling covering walls, floor and seemingly everything else. Populate that with Quoddy boots, Barbour jackets, and lots and lots of plaid, and you've got what amounts to catnip for fans of the trad, Americana, or workwear look (whichever you prefer).
Some might choose the slightly pejorative "urban woodsman" though, and you can't really blame them. The trend metastasized to the point of self-parody, what with all those bearded 20-somethings head-to-toe in buffalo plaid, buying $250 axes and signing up for butchering classes. But you have to commend J.Crew, and head menswear designer Frank Muytjens, for navigating it without lingering to the point of definition. This fall season seems to be more about celebrating classic looks, classic brands-and as expressed by this new store-creating a shopping experience with some style and relaxed refinement (none of which you're going to find at American Apparel). And they do, balancing out the aforementioned ruggedness with Thomas Mason spread collar shirts and cashmere navy suits, both exclusive to this location.