Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Porta' Eyes...Designer of the year 2010—Frank Muytjens of J.Crew



I just caught the new GQ slideshow on building your business casual wardrobe, and loved that they included Frank Muytjens of J. Crew to model some looks. It hit me that he really changed J. Crew for the better when he jumped on only a couple of seasons ago. His vision for the brand took flight, and he stayed true to the core of the brand whilst tampering with fit, quality, and price (which is understandable). I feel that Frank was doing Americana before the majority of people hopped on, and one of the main reasons that people look so good when they wear Americana from J. Crew is this man. He doesn’t wear Red Wing boots with selvedge all the time, but rather he formulates a look that is dressed up but still has a gritty edge to it. It’s frankly the best of both worlds. Another thing that was less apparent was how well he dresses to his hair color. By using one item in the same tone such as a tweed jacket or flannel pants, he doesn’t look like he is overtly trying to pull together a look that is centered around that tone. Rather, it all just fits into place like it should. If you couldn’t tell already, Wooster does a similar thing when dressing. For anybody out there who is actually looking for inspiration on how to dress business casual, the last two looks seemed like they would be particularly great if you aren’t feeling like wearing a tie but still want to stay away from jeans and a t-shirt. That tweed jacket can truly do no wrong. It’s quite obvious that he was trying to market the blazer, and it definitely worked.

Frank Muytjens for J.Crew Fall/Winter 2010 [GQ/CFDA]

As one of the finalists for the GQ/CFDA Best New American Menswear Designer of the Year Award, Frank Muytjens delivers a flawless lineup for J.Crew. The Fall 2010 collection brings plenty of good looks including a handful of outerwear pieces fitted with warm, comfortable fabrics. Although Billy Reid won the award, we really think we’ll be seeing more great lineups from Frank Muytjens in the near future.

Frank Muytjens with J.Crew Fall 2010 models



The newly resurrected Menswear magazine has an interview with Frank Muytjens. Here are some excerpts, questions by Jean E. Palmieri:

How do you come up with novelty, given the inherent limits of men’s wear?
Men’s wear is almost like a framework. All the shapes are there and you can tweak them, but you have to keep it understandable. You want a guy to recognize it. There are only so elements you can play with. That’s a challenge, but it’s also what I find interesting.

Which artists inspire you?
Many. [Constantin] Brancusi, Fairfield Porter – he’s a great American painter. The Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen – I love his clean lines. The photography of Irving Penn… I also look at nature. I love the California coast – Big Sur, Muir Woods. I’ve always been a bit of an outdoorsy guy, and that translates well [in my designs]. Nothing is too precious or too elegant – there should always be a tougher, masculine edge to it.

Who are your style icons?
They’re all dead, but I love Montgomery Clift and how he dressed, Jacques Cousteau’s striped Ts, The Clash, and Brancusi – he had great style. With people like this, it seemed more genuine, less thought out. There were no hair and makeup people. It’s hard to see personal style anymore.

What’s up next?
For fall, we have Crescent Down Works and Russell Moccasins. [Russell's] factory is about as big as this room, and their process has been in place for such a long time now. It makes me appreciate the craftmanship even more because you know what’s behind it.

On a side note, the first issue of Menswear is pretty decent and has some interesting profiles on several different designers and companies along with current industry trends – pick it up at your local Barnes & Noble. I know I’ve spent six dollars on worse things.

Drexler and head menswear designer Frank Muytjens (far left) look over designs with Muytjens’ team.


Frank Muytjens in Free & Easy

By R.A. Schenck

Not paying much attention to this month’s issue of Free & Easy, StartWithTypewriters had to point out to me that there was a cool section in it on Frank Muytjens, VP of menswear design at J.Crew. The eight page spread shows off some of his favorite pieces from his wardrobe and home, and besides the obvious J.Crew stuff there were some surprising things listed.



Frank's Bags


Frank Muytjens has been making frequent appearances in Free & Easy over this past year and the current issue for September has him showing off some his bags. I’m surprised that he carries so many different communication devices, though I’m not surprised that he’s a Leica man.


Following on the heels of the recently opened Men's Store on Madison Ave, Frank Muytjens, Head of men's design at J.Crew and good friend of Secret Forts, gives Sandra Ballentine of T Magazine(2010 Men's Fall Fashion Issue) a look at a few of the many layers of his own personal style, what inspires him and where he gets away from it all.


Street Style—Frank Muytjens

by Michael Williams

While at the opening of the new J.Crew men’s shop on Broadway in NYC, I took the opportunity to do a little “street style” (which I know, the name implies the photos be taken on the street and this is in a store) shoot with Mr. Frank Muytjens, the men’s design lead for J.Crew. You may remember Frank from back in February when he was kind enough to let us check out his workspace. Enjoy!




Frank Muytjens, NYC
Frank Muytjens, NYC
J CREW Jacket
Army Green Shirt w/ Grey Tie
Cuffed J CREW Denim
Brown Chelsea Boots
Photo By: Phil Oh

The J. Crew Teams

From left: Frank Muytjens, Jenna Lyons, and Andy Spade at the White Horse Tavern in New York's West Village.

It seems J.Crew‘s leading men [and women] have been catching some much-deserved face time as of late. The Wall Street Journal recently did an excellent write up of the company’s CEO, Mickey Drexler. The 66 year-old CEO is closer to the ground floor and more passionate about his work than any other modern-day corporate leader, and some of his closest colleagues refer to him as the “Steve Jobs of retail”. Head to WSJ to find out why.

Then, there’s Drexler’s team of gifted individuals which includes executive creative director Jenna Lyons, head of men’s design Frank Muytjens, and collaborator Andy Spade. The folks at Details recently caught up with the trio to weigh in on what to wear, eat, and do this summer. Lyons endorses, among other things, an old-school Polaroid camera while Spade digs Bermuda shorts and Mr. Muytjens pushes Alden’s white suede bucks made exclusively for J.Crew.

Behind the Scenes: J. Crew

The last in our series of studio visits, today our video features menswear designer Frank Muytjens, a 2010 Best New Designer in America finalist whose updated looks revitalized the no-longer-just-preppy J. Crew.
Frank Muytjens J.Crew menswear designer Frank Muytjens attends the GQ's Best New Menswear Designers Party at the IAC Building on February 11, 2010 in New York City.
J.Crew menswear designer Frank Muytjens attends the GQ's Best New Menswear Designers Party at the IAC Building on February 11, 2010 in New York City.
(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images North America)

Frank Muytjens GQ creative director Jim Moore (L) and J.Crew menswear designer Frank Muytjens attend the GQ's Best New Menswear Designers Party at the IAC Building on February 11, 2010 in New York City.
GQ's Best New Menswear Designers Party - Inside



Tyler Brule, Jenna Lyons, Frank Muytjens – image courtsey of Monocle Magazine

Monocle Magazine, purveyor of all things cool, held a holiday party on November 17th at the J. Crew Men’s Shop in SoHo. It might seem surprising that a lifestyle magazine from London would hold a party in NYC, but for the listeners of Monocle’s weekly podcast it makes perfect sense.

Earlier this year, Monocle editor Tyler Brule had Jenna Lyons, creative director for J.Crew, on his show to muse about styling Sasha and Malia Obama for President Obama’s inauguration, fashion trends and the state of retail. Mr. Brule returned the favor by inviting his magazine subscribers to pack the Men’s Shop with a mix of loyal readers, admirers, and a coterie of fashion designers. In attendance was J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler, the aforementioned Jenna Lyons, J. Crew men’s design leader Frank Muytjens, and Monocle editors Andrew Tuck & Robert Bound. Staff members from the L.A. store were also in attendance with gifts in hand: samples of the upcoming December/January issue, candles, cologne and custom branded Moleskins. When pressed about the opening of a New York shop, the team couldn’t share a date but conceded a promising, “soon”.

Mickey Drexler, Tyler Brule, Jenna Lyons, Frank Muytjens – images courtsey of Monocle Magazine

Monocle is known for its attention to detail as much as for its content, and its holiday party was a testament to this fact. There were were numerous waiters, appropriately looking as though they had just stepped out of the J.Crew catalog, unobtrusively keeping partygoers supplied with a variety of hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Tyler Brule and his editorial team made themselves available to everyone, taking the time to engage in conversation with the large group of well-wishers. Each guest received a Monocle tote bag filled with a Brandbook.de/Monocle notebook, J.Crew tie clip, and J.Crew Publishing’s 10 Things Every Man Should Know.

Rather than come across as a shameless promotion between two brands, the event embodied the admiration that Tyler Brule shares for J. Crew and its ability to define itself as a leader of fine American fashion, successfully competing with the Japanese and European fashion houses. It also underscored the intrinsic relationship that exists between clothing companies and the magazines that aim to bring their brands into the forefront of fashion culture. Hopefully, with the opening of the Monocle NY shop in the near future, we will be seeing more collaborative events occurring between some of fashion’s most resonant designers and writers.



Frank Muytjens—Favorite Things


"Thanks!" to Nicole who shared the following post (click here) from Times Magazine about our favorite J.Crew executive, Frank Muytjens!

The following is the article which also has a slide show (click here to view online):
GET: IN-STORE; Manly Thing: J. Crew Men's Shop
By Sandra Ballentine
September 12, 2010

Housed in a former bank on the Upper East Side, with a knotty-pine interior inspired by old Swiss farmhouses, the new store is as layered as Frank Muytjens, the company's head men's-wear designer. ''We tried to create a special experience, with lots of exclusive items, limited editions and interesting one-offs, like vintage books and records,'' Muytjens says.


1. The store will carry pieces from the English leather-goods company Swaine Adeney Brigg. ''Each piece demonstrates that particularly English attention to detail,'' Muytjens says. This trolley is $2,875.

2. The designer likes to peruse the case at Bedford Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. ''Every single cheese has a mouthwatering description that defies you not to buy it,'' he says. Go to bedfordcheeseshop.com.

3. He makes his point with red graphite pencils from Ito-ya, the Tokyo stationery store.

4. Muytjens has a thing for thistles, and he uses the spiky flowers for design presentations and as office d?r. He even grows them in his garden upstate. ''They are spindly and prickly and look very masculine.''


5. He collaborated on these supple boots ($400) with W. C. Russell Moccasin Co., which has been making handmade moccasins in Berlin, Wis., since 1898.

6. His beat-up Filson bag contains a copy of Paul Taylor's 1988 book about Malcolm McLaren. ''He was the first one to mix musical elements from different cultures and come up with something completely fresh, and was hugely influential to me growing up.''

7. Muytjens teamed up with another American heritage brand -- Seattle's Crescent Down Works -- on this vest ($265). ''I love the simplicity of their designs,'' he says.

8. A nature lover, he heads to his house in Hillsdale, N.Y., for ''tranquillity, open space and a killer view.''

9. He collects examples of ''La France Travaille,'' a series of books from the 1930s and 1940s about French workwear. ''I'm inspired by people who use their hands and are close to the earth,'' he says. ''Their garments are stained and mended and passed along for generations -- they tell a story.''

10. The designer is obsessed with old-fashioned American hardware stores, and tools like this Estwing hammer: ''The more you use it, the more beautiful it becomes.'' Go to estwing.com.


11. Muytjens combs Germain, a home furnishings store in Great Barrington, Mass., for French industrial pieces. ''It's dangerous territory for me.'' Go to germain-store.com.

12. These one-of-a-kind $350 chinos (only 20 pairs were made) are patched with panels from vintage pants. ''We may be a big company,'' he says, ''but we relish small, unique projects like this.'' Um... what is up with those chinos!?! The Repaired Stanton Chinos (Item 39088; $350.00) are just plain ridiculous. I checked out the description and frankly could not figure out why they cost so much. I might be missing something. But I know what I am not missing, $350! ;)

With that said, I really like Frank Muytjens. He has done a fantastic job with men's design at J.Crew. My hope is that one day he will return to the Women's department. Even if it is for just a limited time collection. :)

What are your thoughts on the article & slide show? How much do you love Frank Muytjens?


How Frank Muytjens Turned J. Crew into a One-Stop Shop

There was a time, not too long ago, when a reasonable, well-dressed man might have mentioned J. Crew in the same breath as, say, Lands' End. Both offered plenty of pleated khakis. Both mailed out endless streams of catalogs. Both were proudly, loudly not cool. And then, in 2008, something changed. J. Crew opened its first concept shop, the Liquor Store, in New York City. It introduced a blockbuster line of sharp tailoring. And it named Frank Muytjens the head of men's-wear design, and he's since helped position J. Crew as a one-stop shop for the kind of clothes — traditional and trendy, urbane and outdoorsy, and, believe it or not, kind of cool — that a man can build his whole wardrobe on.

About Muytjens: Before J. Crew, the Amsterdam native had spent eight years designing at Polo, where he says he "sharpened [his] love for everything American." And once he was named head of men's design at J. Crew, he helped accelerate the product diversification already in progress. "J. Crew had always been about making our guys' lives a little easier, but we also wanted to bring in more elevated pieces with different points of view." That meant ramping up its cashmere offerings, updating the standard fits and finishes of its basics, and launching that first-ever line of suits aimed at young big-city professionals. And then there are the partnerships with what Muytjens calls "third-party brands." First came Red Wing, followed by Alden, Barbour, Belstaff, Sperry, Ray-Ban, and a string of other heavyweights with decades of heritage behind them. "It's important that the brands we surround ourselves with tell a story," says Muytjens. "For fall, we're working with Russell Moccasin, and they've been around since 1898 and have something to say."

The rest of his fall lineup gets the season's textured, rugged sensibility just right: Tweed, corduroy, and weathered cotton dominate the collection, and Muytjens cites vintage work wear and World War II military uniforms as big inspirations. The company is also opening another men's store in New York, this time on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side. "I love that people expect something unexpected from us," says Muytjens. "It's almost like we're a mini department store — everything in one place, everything complementing everything else. I really like that." Us, too.


Two-button wool jacket ($328), fleece sweatshirt ($55), cotton shirt ($70), cotton jeans ($96), and leather shoes ($155) by J. Crew.



From Frank's Desk!

by Michael Williams

From the Desk of… is a window into the world and workspace of some of ACL’s most stylish friends.

This past week Mr. Frank Muytjens, J.Crew’s VP of men’s design, took some time out of his busy schedule to open up his office to ACL’s prying eyes. After talking to Frank for a few minutes it was clear that we have a lot of the same interests. Everything from workwear to Japan and all sorts of other stylish things. If beer was involved we could have probably talked each other to death.

It was exciting to see the J.Crew offices and some of the work that goes into putting a collection together. Frank even touched on a few of the exciting things that are in the works for what is unofficially being called “The Newsstand,” J.Crew’s interesting new men’s store on Broadway. More on that soon enough. Desk details after the jump.


Frank’s description below:

All writing material is from Ito-ya in Tokyo, especially their pencils are amazing, they have a little eraser on top that actually works. It doesn’t smudge.

Notebooks from Tokyo as well, they’re obsessed with stationary…as am I…mine are from Picnic On Picnic, around the corner from Tokyu Hands, very utilitarian and straightforward…great selection.

More notebooks and stationary from Spalding Bros, picked up in Florence.

Jars are from a vintage store upstate, called the Bottle Shop, love the neutral greyish khaki color. They’re old apothecary jars.

Bookshelves and tasklight from a hardware store on line, just very sturdy, utilitarian and functional.

Classic Ace Pilot stapler, has been around since the 30′s, still in production.

My desk is in an area with virtually no walls, ( I do have a lot of windows….) so we came up with these movable mood boards, they’re 7 feet high and have heavy duty caster wheels so I can move them around easily. They serve as our seasonal inspiration boards. I need to see what I have in front of me, if I don’t I forget I have it… it doesn’t work when I have everything filed in folders. The boards are a constant work in progress.

Obsessed by new and vintage books, recent finds: Peter Saville, who designed all the iconic Joy Division and New Order album covers, and a paperback version of Goodbye Baby & Amen, by David Bailey and Peter Evans, amazing black and white pictures from the 60′s…. La France Travaille, is a series of the 30′s French workwear books. Welders, dockworkers, farmers, miners….great inspiration.




Frank Muytjens
Courtesy of J. Crew
Frank Muytjens’s mood board.


How Frank's Livin'?

One year ago Mr. Frank Muytjens gave Lonny Magazine a glimpse inside of his Brooklyn apartment. The J. Crew Men's Design Chief has never been shy with sharing his personal stuff, but this is far and away my favorite look into his very stylish life. Check out the spread below featuring quotes from the man himself and some tips on how to get Frank's look. Livin', indeed.


J.Crew Mens Shop




Style is Knowing who you are and what works for you

Frank Muytjens: Head of men's design at J.Crew



Catch up with previous 'Our Best Of' of The Style Series

Designer of the year 2009
27 December 2009


Designer of the year 2008
31 December 2008





“The American classics they can't live without!”

the portastylistic

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