It wasn't so long ago that the men's division of J.Crew trafficked mostly in shapeless chinos and roll-neck sweaters. That all changed when Dutch ex-pat Frank Muytjens came aboard in 2004, kicked the tired preppy duds to the curb, and made the brand synonymous with affordable slim suits and tailored workwear. He splits his time between Brooklyn and upstate New York, but his native Netherlands is never far from his mind: "Dutch people dress very practical, because everyone rides a bike – and it rains a lot, so you see a lot of practical gear. The lesson there is that form serves function."
The Suit's Internal Logic
"What we do in tailoring the Ludlow suit is install this beautiful floating chest piece, sandwiched between the lining and the shell – it's made out of horsehair, and it starts to take on the shape of your body. It's this personalized interface in every jacket."
"Nature is a huge inspiration – the colors and different landscapes – and Scotland was a big influence for this fall. In the Outer Hebrides, you'll see a lot of grays, inky blues, and beautiful, bright greens. There's a rough beauty about the place, and it translates to what we do: Our clothes are accessible, not too precious."
"I take the [New York subway's] L train to work from Williamsburg into Manhattan, and I get inspired by what I see. I'll take people's pictures, hoping they don't see me. Sometimes I get into it too much – I'll see a lapel that's too wide or a shoulder that's too oversize, and I just want to get in there and change it."