Former J. Crew president and executive creative director Jenna Lyons has teamed with Turner Entertainment (owned by Warner Media) to develop an unscripted entertainment series, including daily online content and direct-to-consumer commerce, "that will evolve into a full-fledged digital platform in 2020."
The content-plus-commerce venture will involve television, e-commerce, social media and direct-to-consumer platforms and touch on topics of "lifestyle, home, fashion and beauty — bringing Jenna’s approachable, finely curated point of view to a broader audience," according to a press release from Turner emailed to Retail Dive. The project includes a weekly television series produced by Our House Media that will debut next year, the company said.
Lyons left J. Crew in 2017 after a 26-year career during which, especially as creative director, her idiosyncratic fashion style influenced the brand’s classic look.
J. Crew has never replaced Lyons — her responsibilities, which included oversight of all product design, visual and brand presentation, were meted out to other members of the executive team after her departure. But in a way, she was irreplaceable.
Lyons put daylight between J. Crew and its rivals: While Lands’ End and L.L. Bean for years stuck to traditional preppy styles, Lyons punched up those classics with color and embellishments that won the label fans the world over and helped make J. Crew synonymous with style.
By 2014, though, as the brand’s fortunes faltered, some J. Crew loyalists criticized Lyons’ outré style, especially when the price tags also seemed stratospheric. That disconnect led then-CEO Mickey Drexler to admit in mid-2015 that J. Crew was missing on "fundamentals." The company, which is operating under a debt load, has struggled to recapture the ardor — or dollars — of apparel shoppers since, and is trying to lean more on its Madewell denim brand. A planned brand revamp will be a test of J. Crew without either Lyons or Drexler.
Lyons' project with Turner is new territory for her, but her knack for making a fashion statement while expressing her own style seems ideally suited for it. "I want to build a story-driven, comprehensive resource for anyone to satisfy their personal style and help them make aesthetic choices," she said in a statement, in which the programming was also described as a "thoughtfully edited platform [that] will provide individuals the tools to create their own style narratives."
The description sounds like an iteration of the broadcast-based direct-to-consumer market now dominated by QVC. "The relationship between brands and entertainment has been the same for 50 years: Commerce interrupts content in the form of ads," Jae Goodman, CEO of Observatory, the marketing agency working on the platform’s brand relationships, marketing, and content-meets-commerce approach, said in a statement. "This new venture will move beyond this convention to create a world where the content is the commerce and vice versa, delivered with Jenna Lyons’ signature style and approachability."