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After a year of experimental moves (the launch of J. Crew Mercantile) and shakeups within the company, J. Crew is looking to start the new year off on a good note, starting with hiring a very familiar face, Chris Benz, to join the “New Crew” as the Head of Women’s Design, Business of Fashion first reported.
Effective immediately, Benz, who is joining from Bill Blass where he was creative director since 2015, will not only steer the womenswear design ship, but will also takeover Crewcuts, J. Crew’s kid’s brand. Johanna Uurasjarvi, chief design officer has left the J.Crew Group after being brought on by Jim Brett last June. As of right now, Benz and the J. Crew team don’t have an official leader to report to but according to Business of Fashion, Stefan Larsson, Ralph Lauren chief executive, is reportedly in talks to take the reins.
“The company recognized the need for a fresh perspective from someone who understood the importance of the brand’s heritage and style to give consumers the designs they have come to expect from the iconic company,” the brand explained in a press release. “Chris Benz’s colorful, distinct aesthetic complements J.Crew’s own.” J. Crew added: “These necessary and significant changes are part of the company’s efforts to revitalize the J.Crew brand among consumers, while also becoming more productive and more profitable in the process.”
Benz’s appointment is a full circle moment. After winning the CFDA Emerging Designer Scholarship Award during his stint at Marc Jacobs (he graduated from Parsons School of Design in 2004), Benz joined J. Crew as the brand’s womenswear designer for over a year before presenting his very first namesake ready-to-wear collection in February 2007.