It's really the most appropriate way to celebrate the brand's 40th anniversary.
Sitting on the southeastern tip of Manhattan, New York's South Street Seaport isn't particularly known for being a fashion hub. But the district is where J.Crew opened its first brick-and-mortar store, launching a retail legacy that lives on decades later.
The original store is no longer around, but J.Crew returned to its roots to celebrate its 40-year anniversary this week. The brand kicked off Spring/Summer 2024 New York Fashion Week with a blowout bash at Pier 17 — just steps away from that first store — complete with cameos from former creative director (and current Real Housewife of New York) Jenna Lyons, Diane Keaton, Joshua Jackson and Jodie Turner-Smith, as well as a performance by The Strokes.
Another way the brand is celebrating its latest milestone is with an Assouline coffee table book, Forty Years of American Style, featuring a bevy of archival catalog photos and personal stories from the likes of Lyons, Eva Chen, and Carolyn Murphy. The book also chronicles some of the brand's most iconic moments, including when Michelle, Sasha, and Malia Obama were outfitted in J.Crew at the 2009 presidential inauguration.
Although it may seem impossible to summarize J.Crew's influence on the way we dress, there are certain staple pieces that have been woven into the brand's DNA over the years. J.Crew is synonymous with preppy, timeless staples, from the reissued Scoop-Back One-Piece Swimsuit to the Barn Jacket to cords and chinos. And one category the brand excels in season after season? The classic, cozy sweater.
“There are so many iconic pieces of J.Crew clothing that we all think of when it comes to the catalog days and now with today’s collections, but sweaters hold a special place in our hearts," Olympia Gayot, J.Crew Women’s Creative Director tells InStyle. "From the rollnecks — which we brought back earlier this year in a vintage drop — to our beloved cashmere that sits in fans’ wardrobes for generations, these pieces never go out of style."
Having 40 years of collections to look back on also means that Gayot and her team are tasked with preserving the brand heritage as they usher in a new era. "With each new season we are designing, I am oftentimes most inspired by the J.Crew archives, and a lot of consumers will see with that influence with the new Fall collection and launches to come," she says, adding that, "It’s an honor to pay homage to 40 years of American style and these tried-and-true sweater staples that we all know and love."
Ahead, look back at J.Crew's history of sweaters from the 1980s, '90s, '00s, and today through the lens of the brand's iconic catalogs, style guides, and look books.
Before the brick-and-mortar stores arrived, J.Crew was entirely catalog-based. Here, the winter 1986 cover showcases fair-isle sweaters among other wintry pieces.
By fall '93, there was a more spare aesthetic in the catalogs, as seen with this grey layered look.
The winter 1997 catalog continues the minimalist movement with a grey cable-knit crewneck.
The holiday 1998 cover shows knits for the whole family (and, for the first time, promotes jcrew.com).
The rollneck, a J.Crew signature, gets a full-page spread in colorful stripes.
Once the early aughts arrived, neutrals were pushed aside in favor or bright, cheery shades like canary yellow. But the prep factor never left, with crewnecks styled over button-downs.
J.Crew cashmere grew a cult following in the 2000s, thanks to its high quality, range of styles, and rainbow of hues.
Turtleneck, V-neck, plaid — this 2001 catalog cover was a virtual checklist of all things J.Crew fall.
The holiday 2003 catalog put patterns on display with argyle and fair isle styles.
In the 2000s came the J.Crew Collection, and with it, higher-end pieces like a plaid ball skirt styled with a cashmere crewneck.
In the Jenna Lyons era, pairing neons and neutrals became the norm, as was cashmere and sequins. "We toggled between simplicity and sparkle, restraint and ruffles, denim and dots. Either way, it was always about the clothes — and always fun," Lyons says in Forty Years of American Style.
In the 2010s, the brand also began showing at New York Fashion Week, which gave fans an opportunity to see the unique styling Lyons and her team were known for IRL. Case in point: this colorblocked look from the fall 2015 presentation, featuring a bubblegum pink turtleneck and purple knee-length skirt.
The traditions of J.Crew are palpable in the fall 2023 look book. Featuring the Cashmere Shrunken Cable-Knit Rollneck styled with the Collection Wide-Leg Essential Pant and an armful of chunky bracelets, the look says modern-day Quiet Luxury, but with a timeless J.Crew bent.
Forty Years of American Style will be available beginning Sept. 12, and is on pre-order now at jcrew.com.
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Read the original article on InStyle.