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Profile: Jenna Lyons

Sarah Kilcourse takes a look at a powerful female figure who proves that fashion and feminism are a perfect match


There is no doubt that it is on trend to be a feminist in fashion right now. Somewhere between Chanel’s riotous protests for the SS15 runway show and fashion darling Emma Watson launching the He for She campaign at the UN, feminism is being given a new lease of life by the crème de la crème of the industry. Powerful voices, like that of Vivienne Westwood (who prefers the term antifeminist by the way), have always supported the roles of women in the fashion world but the influx of youthful support has made feminism headline news again.

Behind the magazine headlines are the women who prove that women are a fashion force to be reckoned with, and a perfect example is J. Crew creative director and president Jenna Lyons. A brief synopsis of Lyons’s life so far: She joined J. Crew aged 21 as an assistant menswear designer, got married, had a son, got divorced, all while working her way through the ranks of J. Crew. Now at the helm, Lyons has creative and financial influence over the company as a whole, tripling profits in 10 years, and rebranding a former catalogue-only company.

Lyons is a prime example of how a woman directing an industry sold to women works. Other women running the show like Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo and Donna Karan prove the growing influence of women in today’s world. Even if the term feminism is itself currently undergoing a rebranding in fashion culture, it is the work of these women which has shaped it from the inside out. They, like Lyons, work hard and encourage women to dress however they please. This combined with a few cover stories has ensured that it is not feminism as a trend but women as a force within fashion.