Madewell Pre-Fall 2019 Collection – Vogue Images
Madewell is on track to become a billion-dollar brand. How did the kid-sister line to J.Crew not only overtake its struggling parent company, but also come to dominate the accessible, everyday market? It hasn’t been a straight path, or even one without its fair share of speed bumps, but under the creative direction of Joyce Lee, Madewell has become synonymous with three things in the minds of millennial women: denim, playful but functional accessories, and just the right amount of wanderlust.
Inside the brand’s sunny offices in Long Island City, New York, the only sign of its success is the constant shuffling about of women in rainbow-stripe and daisy-strewn dresses. The hallways are constantly, incessantly bustling, but beautiful. That’s the Madewell allure: It’s corporate and big, but it’s not scary or difficult. It’s a cool friend giving you a fashion tip, not a data-produced bit of jargon that promises you a better you. Where other mass-market retailers hew towards aspirational ready-to-wear trends, Madewell will dip its sky blue pedicured toenail into the vibes of a season, but never more.
For Pre-Fall 2019—the brand’s high-summer drop—Lee and her team imagined three destinations, New England, Beverly Hills, and Hawaii, and crafted capsule collections for each that will release in June, July, and August respectively. In the lookbook here, the collections are styled all together for a sunny mishmash of tropical printed shorts, denim jumpsuits, and mustard yellow sundresses. Tie-front details and rainbow stripes are big ideas for the season, as are rompers and enough pastel dresses to make a girl’s head spin. Formalwear is not really Madewell’s thing, but there are some pretty lilac frocks and slips that could work at a chilled-out wedding or graduation ceremony. It might not be big-time, bold fashion, but capturing women’s imaginations in a relatable way is turning out to be big business.