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J. Crew finds its fashion week niche

The Associated Press
Modified: February 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm •  Published: February 19, 2013

NEW YORK — J. Crew's seasonal collection at New York Fashion Week is a bit of an anomaly: Most people know J. Crew, and many can afford to buy the clothes. It shows how New York Fashion Week, while staged largely for editors, retailers and stylists, has become a bit more democratic.

There are still a few velvet ropes surrounding the event based at Lincoln Center for eight days, but accessibility is creeping in. (Many shows are streamed live online, for example.)

Insiders might place a few advance orders for key pieces that were previewed Tuesday, such as the rose-gold camp shirt, metallic floral polo shirt and sweatshirt-style cashmere sweaters and skinny pants that featured silver brocade on a purple background. Most people in the crowd probably rarely visit a mall or even Main Street, but they were buzzing about the outfits.

The luxury of working for J. Crew, said womenswear designer Tom Mora, is that there's room to offer new inspiring pieces that mix with the classics the brand is built on. He can fill the windows for fall with all the colors and textures he fell in love with during a trip to Marrakech, Morocco, but somewhere, on some rack, will be the boater-stripe T-shirt the customer comes back for.

"It's not all what you'd think of for fall, but all the color and mosaic is really in our vocabulary all the time," Mora said.

He isn't too literal, so the stores won't look like an exotic travel magazine, he said, but a starting point for a collection sets an attitude and lets J. Crew have some fun in its styling.

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