Frank Muytjens is the sort of man who comes with a reputation. As the creative mind behind J. Crew menswear, he's turned a standard American brand into an uber-desirable International commodity. When I lived in New York the J. Crew Liquor Store was one of my favourite spots to have a browse and perfectly summed up the new era of the brand: high quality, reliable menswear. To me he's the perfect male equivelant to the effortlessly charismatic Jenna Lyons and it was a pleasure to sit down with him, ahead of the new London store opening in Shoreditch, to talk life and style.
Frank Muytjens, Head of Menswear Design at J. Crew.
When you were a boy what did you want to be when you grew up? In hindsight it was always fashion, but I got there in a round about way. I remember asking my mum to make stuff for me on her sewing machine but I always thought I wanted to be a graphic designer. When I went to art school, it became more and more clear that being a fashion designer is what I really wanted to be. Around that time I took a trip to London in the early 80's and got invited to Vivienne Westwood's Nostalgia Of Mud show. That was a pivotal moment, it made me realize I made the right decision.
What brought you to New York and what's kept you there for 2 decades? The energy. I remember visiting New York for the first time in 1985 and I couldn't believe how at home the city made me feel. Everything seemed fluid and easy. So I visited many times after that and then I moved here permanently in 1994. I'm so grateful; New York has been very kind to me.
As a creative man, I want to know where you get your inspiration? What I love about my job is that everything is always changing and there is always something new. I'm always hungry and open and curious…you have to be. It keeps me on my toes. I get inspired by everything and anything - movies, nature, a vintage scarf, art, photography, music, interiors, army and navy surplus...
Redchurch street is now the 6th London location - why is London a key city for J.Crew and why did you select Shoreditch for the new location? I think that our customer in London understands and appreciate what we do and we knew there was an appetite for the brand, so that made the decision to open in London easy. To me, London has a similar vibe to New York. Shoreditch has a different customer and very unique feel to the other neighborhoods where we have our stores in London. There are so many amazing places like Albion, Labour And Wait, Leila's groceries shop…I always get the sage eggs in the restaurant next door.
In your journey so far in life, what's been your most fulfilling moment? The validation and support that we get from people in the industry, whom I have always respected, as well as our customers is both humbling and fulfilling. It means the world.
Leave us with some words of wisdom. Turn your hobby into your work but take your time and be prepared to learn as much as you can. It turns you into a well-rounded person.
Find the new J. Crew store at 58 Redchurch St, London E2 7DP.
See the full shoot below.