our head men’s designer and his bucolic weekend retreat in Hillsdale, New York,
are featured in Elle Décor magazine. we took a moment to find out how
he stays busy and inspired without Wi-Fi or cell phone service (gasp!).
Photo: William Waldron, courtesy of Elle Décor.
On the weekends, Frank loves to entertain friends. His signature homemade Dutch apple pie and cheeses from the renowned Bedford Cheese Shop in Williamsburg are entertaining staples. “Every cheese has a mouthwatering description that defies you not to buy it,” he says.
Frank isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He grows sea holly in his Hillsdale garden because “they’re spindly and look very masculine.” (He even uses them in our menswear presentations and office decor.) His faithful gardening companion? Dutch, his two-year-old vizsla.
Frank is obsessed with old-fashioned American hardware stores and collects an assortment of timeworn objects. He’s particularly fond of a brand called Estwing that produces hammers that become “even more beautiful as you use them.”
Frank constantly collects books for his country and city houses. One of his favorites is a collection of books from the 1930s and 1940s called “La France Travaille,” which is about French workwear. “I’m inspired by garments that tell a story,” he says.
One of Frank’s favorite home furnishings stores, beloved for its selection of French industrial-style pieces—which he mixes in with Marcel Breuer armchairs and mementos such as turtle shells and antlers—is Germain, located nearby in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
brothers Chris and Kirk Bray are the founders of small leather goods label Billykirk, one of our In Good Company partners. using domestic hardware, leather sourced from stateside tanneries and the help of Amish artisans, they craft classic American designs that get better with age.
The name Billykirk comes from Kirk’s full name: William Kirkland. “Our father called me Billykirk,” he says. “Southerners have a thing for melding together first and middle names.” In the workroom, Chris handles the finances and big-picture planning, while Kirk is more focused on each season’s designs, which include everything from wallets and belts to padded briefcases and carryalls.
—MEN AT WORK—
Chris and Kirk started Billykirk while they were both living in Los Angeles. They learned the art of leather making by apprenticing with a third-generation craftsman named Arnold in downtown LA for three years before moving back to the East Coast. They now have a workspace in Jersey City, where they do much of the hand-stitching and -finishing.
—TOOLS OF THE TRADE—
After standing over Arnold’s shoulder and watching him work with leather all day, Chris and Kirk started to buy jack shears, cutting tables, belt strippers and cutting dies from Arnold on layaway. Many of the old-fashioned machines had been previously owned by Arnold’s grandfather.
Chris and Kirk sketch the original designs in their Jersey City studio and source their leather from U.S.-based tanneries such as Wickett & Craig, which specializes in vegetable tanning. They’ve enlisted the help of Amish craftsmen to work on many of their leather goods, and all of the designs are cut, oiled and edged by hand in their studio.
“We’ve always been intrigued by leather and how it changes over time,” says Chris, who points out that often something as simple as a hook or a buckle will inspire a design.
“We work with an heirloom mentality, where you pass things down,” says Chris. “Our products last. They’re not throwaway items.
Photography by Alan Gastelum.
Shop our full collection of Billykirk accessories here.
we shot our latest Style Guide on the streets of Tribeca, New York.
here, some of our crew share their top tips…
R Gallery:"They represent a distinguished group of historical and contemporary designers that makes truly innovative, finely crafted pieces that I pine for!”
—Gayle, head women’s stylist
The Odeon:“Apparently Warhol and Basquiat used to frequent this place when it opened 30 years ago. I love it for the atmosphere and the kir royales.”
MeKong:"Ask for a sidewalk table at this Vietnamese spot; the people watching is unbeatable.”
—Troi, hair & makeup
Walker’s:"Why? It’s simple: They have the best hamburgers in town!”
And don’t miss…the Liquor Store. It was originally a Tribeca tavern located for years in an 1825 townhouse. The original wood bar is still intact, and we’ve got our very best men’s items on tap: premium officer’s chinos, narrow-cut suits and handpicked collectibles, like vintage watches, LPs and first-edition books.
to celebrate our opening in Hong Kong and Beijing at specialty store Lane Crawford,
our store design team whipped up these whimsical illustrations that depict a J.Crew-themed
skyline inspired by our Manhattan flagships.
For the visual displays that appear inside specialty shop Lane Crawford, our head of creative services, Ruth, was inspired by a toile-style wallpaper she’d first seen inside the historic building at 50 Hudson Street (now the J.Crew Ludlow Shop) in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. From there, the design team riffed on the idea and decided to create a life-size cityscape inspired by J.Crew flagships throughout Manhattan to serve as a fanciful backdrop for the clothing on display.
The store design team, which includes Brandon and his assistant, Ellie, created the initial miniature renderings (which remind us of the dioramas we created in grade school) using reference images of the storefronts and architectural blueprints. Brandon and Ellie then turned their workspace into an artist’s studio, spending several weeks filling in the illustrations—which were anywhere from 6 to 9½ feet tall—by hand, using watercolor paint.
—FLORA AND FAUNA—
As part of the display, Ellie collaborated with artist Rebekah Maysles to create spot illustrations of various plants and animals one may encounter in Manhattan, including mice. (“But cute ones!” Ellie insisted.)
Ruth, Brandon and Ellie traveled to Hong Kong in advance of the opening of J.Crew at Lane Crawford to install the larger-than-life displays, which were shipped over in gigantic crates, to outfit the 2,700-square-foot retail space. The team worked through the night to ensure the display was properly placed to create a playful cityscape effect reminiscent of the Manhattan skyline.
Behind the Shoot: Flower Making with Confetti System
Nick and Julie, the minds behind New York-based CONFETTISYSTEM, create
the coolest party decorations out of paper. we enlisted their help for a recent
Style Guide shoot and sat down to talk design inspiration and perfectionist tendencies.
Our set design team recently collaborated with paper-wielding wizards Nick Andersen and Julie Ho of CONFETTISYSTEM, who have been working with J.Crew since 2010.
Nick and Julie, both Martha Stewart Living alums, work out of their New York studio where each design is meticulously crafted by hand. (We’re perfectionists, obsessed with building and refining,” Julie says.) In the case of the flower garlands they designed for J.Crew, two days were spent creating more than 200 individual flowers and leaves for each strand. They worked with our set design director, Tracy, to carefully select the tissue-paper color based on the wedding and party dresses used in the shoot. “We’re really inspired by simple materials,” says Julie. “In the end, we just really want people to have fun with what we create.”
Next month, look for flower garlands by CONFETTISYSTEM in the store windows of our bridal boutique at 91 Fifth Ave in New York City. Shop our full weddings and party collection here.
crafted from our sturdy yet soft English wool from the legendary Marling & Evans
mill in West of England. we updated this old world-style topcoat with a slimmer
fit and an extra ticket pocket. mother nature, bring on the cold.
FABRIC WITH HISTORY
Oxfordshire-based mill Marling & Evans’s fine woolen cloth is renowned for its refinement—it was first established as a hand-weaving shop in the 16th century in the West of England.
READ BETWEEN THE LINING
The inside of our topcoat has a luxurious Bemberg lining, a bespoke-inspired detail you’ll recognize from our Ludlow suit. We like the Bemberg lining because it has an extra-silky hand and is favored by suit makers for its breathability and moisture absorption.
MARK OF DISTINCTION
The red design on the logo is the merchant’s mark, which hundreds of years ago would have been stenciled onto the cloth bales before they left the mill to be exported across Europe.
Ours features an exterior ticket pocket, a detail borrowed from traditional topcoats. Nowadays it’s handy for storing modern equivalents, like MetroCards, your iPhone or tickets to the Giants game.
2. I’m totally obsessed with the Dries Van Noten dragon jacket.
3. A Haider Ackermann elongated jersey knit pencil skirt with killer pointed stilettos.
4. Dannijo’s metal collar necklace, which I’ll pair with everything from a T-shirt to a sweater.
Must-sees, Must-dos in Hong Kong…
1. Go to Shek O, located in a sleepy beach village, for Thai food. It’s a hidden gem.
2. Even Hong Kong has a surf culture. For the best wakeboarding, head to Big Wave Bay.
3. For shopping, visit the Jade Market, where you’ll find great-priced pieces.
Everyone should have a signature piece. Mine is a biker or tuxedo jacket. Your forever go-to item will become the pivotal piece in your closet that you can build your wardrobe around. Style shouldn’t be about making sure you have every trend of the season checked off to be deemed relevant!