I preordered The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J.Crew by Maggie Bullock. I cracked that thing as soon as it became available, which was also the very week my husband went out of town for a conference, leaving me with the Pamper Pirate. Nevertheless, this book was so good, I found myself reaching for it during every nap time and hour prior to bedtime.
As someone who convinced her mom to order a fall/winter J.Crew closet refresh every November as part of school shopping, later turning into a full blown obsession with the availability of 36 inch inseams and tall size range dresses, coats, shirts, and even pajamas, I loved reading about what was going on behind the seams. During my fall/winter closet fresh phase, I did not know much about the then-catalogue based company. A faceless brand, which was how the then-head of company liked it. By the time of my full blown obsession, Jenna Lyons was a well known figure head of fashion, an arbiter of style and taste. She was also a woman who, not unlike myself, topped six feet. She was just like me! Could her influence be the reason us giraffes were finally getting those tall size ranges? And could her absence be the reason we are no longer getting those sizes?
The Kingdom of Prep is the story of J.Crew from the days it was established by Arthur Cinader with his daughter picking up the baton and running full blast, to the merchant prince Mickey Drexler teaming up with Jenna Lyons. One dynastic company colored by two dynamic duo eras, each plagued by leveraged buyouts, investors, debt (hoooo boy, the debt!) and the suits (the people, not the Ludlow) that came along with them. There were some dark days as detailed in the book, which made the 2015 viral Hunger Games reference Instagram posts look like another Tuesday at the office, albeit not as cruel.
I obsessively follow the anonymous Instagram account @lostjcrew and I found myself having a dialogue with the person (people?) behind it while working through the book. Reviewing this account should be required supplemental, actually no – prerequisite, media material for reading The Kingdom of Prep. First, I confirmed that @lostjcrew was at the company, ostensibly headquarters, during the Emily Cinader era. Second, I verified the pronounciation of Cinader. Soft C, like an ‘S’, by the way.
This past month, I also took another re-read of #fashionvictim by Amina Akhtar. Though the genre sits somewhere between horror and satire, akin to a deranged little sister of American Psycho, I have re-read it to the point that it is now a comfort book.