J.Crew Is Ready for a Shot in the Arm. Brendon Babenzien Is the Guy for the Job.

Good news for folks who like good menswear: Today, J.Crew announced that Brendon Babenzien is the new creative director for its men’s division. Even if you don’t know his name, you already know his work. The former design director for streetwear juggernaut Supreme, Babenzien is also the co-founder of Noah, the NYC-based label that mashes up classic prep, skate style, and a socially and environmentally conscious worldview into expertly executed (and feverishly sought-after) pieces ranging from the brand’s signature “winged foot” hoodie to crisp pleated chinos and double-breasted sport coats.

“J.Crew has always been a part of my life—quietly, subtly in the background, slowly becoming the platform from which to build my personal style,” Babenzien said in a statement. “I’m excited to join the team and build a positive future that meets the interests of the thoughtful consumers that exist today, satisfying not just their sophisticated taste level but their demands for responsible business practices.”

At Noah, Babenzien’s created a brand that (should you feel like drawing the lines of connection between his past and future work) you could get away with describing as either a grown-up take on Supreme or a cool-kid riff on J.Crew. That doesn’t capture the full breadth of it—the aesthetic isn’t actually that simple, and as Babenzien told Esquire last year, Noah is as much about how the business is being done as what is being made—but it does serve as a handy little thought experiment to contextualize the designer’s move to J.Crew.

Let’s face it: The excitement that once attended every new menswear release from the brand has tapered off a bit in recent years. Who better to revive the fan base (and bring in new acolytes) than the guy who knows how to balance the energy and youthfulness of the downtown cognoscenti with the respect for the classics that keeps the clothes rooted in reality? And at a time when customers demand more accountability from brands than ever, who better to help bring responsible business practices to the fore of a giant company than the person who made it a foundational element of his own brand?

We’ll have to wait a little while to see the effects of Babenzien’s appointment; he’s already on board, reporting to CEO Libby Wadle, but his first full collection isn’t expected until the second half of 2022. But if things go well, and he’s given the freedom to execute on his ideas, it feels like there’s a whole lot of potential here. “J.Crew is in the unique position to help men achieve the confidence we all seek both stylistically and as consumers,” Babenzien said. “I look forward to working with Libby and the rest of the J.Crew family to achieve these goals.”

Jonathan Evans is the style director of Esquire, covering all things fashion, grooming, accessories, and, of course, sneakers.

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Source : Esquire