J. Crew Accessories, Fashion Week Continues: Preppy Karen Walker

Well, hello world on another bright and sunny day! We hope everyone enjoyed a restful and rewarding weekend wherever their time was spent.

As mentioned in our previous post about the Lacoste Spring/Summer 2009 show, the insanity that is Fashion Week continues apace!

We thought some might enjoy a few more impressions from the earlier shows, starting with a somewhat preppy looking collection from Karen Walker, starting with the three-shot above. Ms. Walker is from New Zealand, and the bio on her website describes her design aesthetic:

“Karen’s collections are high casual with one foot in tailoring and the other in street wear. The recurring theme is taking extremes and pushing them together – masculine and feminine, tailored and street, luxury and non-luxury, dark and super-cute. Overall the label has a feeling of effortlessness and has been described by the UK’s Independent newspaper as being ‘The kind of look that provides a means of appearing cool but not trying-too-hard…’ “.

Ms. Walker titled her collection “The Believers,” and many looks had an old school appeal, right down to the modified Keds worn by the models. The ‘preppy’ influence on her design preferences is not surprising, considering her years at the rather refined Epsom Girls Grammar School in Auckland. Now, TP’s evil twin must have been out of her cage this morning, as she directed us to the actual school website upon reading about Ms. Walker’s background, and because of our years spent wearing uniforms at school we simply had to look up Epsom’s to see what Ms. Walker was subjected to in this arena.

This helps TP understand the oversized blazers in the collection, which we think are excellent.

The Princess is not the first to report on J Crew’s expanded Accessory Collection, enlarged substantially by Creative Director Jenna Lyons, but we thought we might share her insight on the move to grow this category.

Anyone perusing their J. Crew ‘Indulgences‘ catalog will note the changer in the catalog, as it is not a glossy magazine-style piece, but done on newsprint, a coarser feeling material. Frankly, this almost went the way of the weekly shoppers and other flyers, straight into the recycling bin; fortunately we knew to look for it in its different format.

Aficionados will also note the increase in shoes offered, with that category header online touting their ‘Ballet Flats starting at $138,’ as seen below, perhaps a nod to the tight economy. As a recent online WWD story (subscription required) explains:

“Lyons said the shoe business has increased incrementally. ‘It’s something that kept growing,’ she said. ‘People kept asking for more. We ended up having this really broad range of shoes.'”

The website carries J. Crew’s long-established basics such as the “Dorian Driving Moc,” although the WWD story questions some high-end styles, like the Tivoli Ballet Flat:

“…One of the most expensive, the Tivoli ballet flat in python, is priced at $398. ‘Our shoes are made in Italy and snakeskin is rare,” Lyons said. “It’s speaking to a slightly more sophisticated customer….'”

For those fond of this material, there is also a snakesin clutch at $495 and snakeskin slingbacks at $495. TP would be remiss in her obligations if she did not mention there are also snakeskin flip-flops and they happen to be on sale, however one must note they are referred to in a more refined fashion as “Metallic snakeskin Capri sandals.” Of course.

Lyons also told WWD there will be more emphasis on handbags:

“That’s an amazing opportunity,” Lyons said. “We’re looking for ways to build on our Uptown tote. We’re looking at how we can make our [handbag collection] larger and exploit it online.”

J Crew UPtown Tote

J Crew Uptown Tote

Ms. Lyons had a strong attitude on pricing in the market overall:

We’re frustrated with what we see going on with designer handbags. The prices are insane and the [devaluation] of the dollar has made things worse. We want to be very conscientious. Can a handbag be $700 or $800? Sure. But do we want to get to $1,200? We want to win people’s trust with the quality of the goods without doing it big and expensive.”

Hair accessories may not have sold as well as hoped; all are now on sale. TP’s favorites are unlikely to  surprise readers, as she is always vocal about her interest in an item’s ‘snuggle factor’ and her love of argyle:

It will be interesting to see how the expanded inventory fares, especially the brand’s move into fine jewelry for the first time. The line includes the 10K gold Boule ring and the Ribbon-tied long pearl necklace with genuine freshwater pearls.

TP actually prefers the company’s costume pieces, especially the broad range of enameled rings and bracelets, always lovely additions to one’s look. BTW, one mustn’t forget the continuing end of summer sale with clearance prices on almost everything.

As always, happy hunting!


Also, a very quick peek at the first-ever runway collection from Catherine Holstein, with lots of long, leggy casual-but-elegant looks that we found rather intriguing. Ms. Holstein is Parson graduate, and also

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

As always, we’ll be back!

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5 Comments

Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

5 responses to “J. Crew Accessories, Fashion Week Continues: Preppy Karen Walker

  1. I just love fashion week!

  2. Ahem. I received my Preppy Princess newsletter today, and I clicked over to see TPP on TV! How wonderful! Is that you so wonderfully decked out in the pink + green? The polo is Lilly, correct? I thought I got a glipse of the signature palm tree.

    What a cute little spot on tv! Congratulations 🙂

  3. Love Catherine Holstein – definitely one to look out for. Beautiful blue flats, although wouldn’t wear python skin of course! Feel sorry for the Espom grammar girls – they must watch Gossip Girl and get ever so slightly peeved.

  4. Lauren

    I was happy to read Jenna Lyons comments on handbag pricing at J Crew. I saw a Coach bag at the mall yesterday that was $800. Since when did Coach bags exceed $400?

    I hope you had a nice weekend!

  5. I am surprised that J.Crew is becoming so high fashion. I am worried that they will lose their loyal customer base while they are trying to expand too quickly.

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