Jenna Lyons Says Obamas' Off-the-Rack Shopping Habits Don't Help J.Crew's Sales

It's no secret that the First Family has a thing for J.Crew. All three of the Obama ladies--Michelle, Malia and Sasha--wore at least one item from the retailer this Inauguration weekend. But just because they live in the White House doesn't mean the Obamas get special treatment from the brand.
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Hayley Phelan
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It's no secret that the First Family has a thing for J.Crew. All three of the Obama ladies--Michelle, Malia and Sasha--wore at least one item from the retailer this Inauguration weekend. But just because they live in the White House doesn't mean the Obamas get special treatment from the brand.
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

It's no secret that the First Family has a thing for J.Crew. All three of the Obama ladies--Michelle, Malia and Sasha--wore at least one item from the retailer this Inauguration weekend. But just because they live in the White House doesn't mean the Obamas get special treatment from the brand.

“As far as we know, they literally ordered online and they shop like anyone else in America,” J.Crew President Jenna Lyons told WWD.

Speaking this morning on CNN, Lyons agreed that wearing J.Crew helps the First Family feel more relatable--particularly since, as she stated earlier, they buy off the rack just like everyone else. "That's probably why they keep doing it."

But while wearing J.Crew may make it easier for the public to connect with the Obamas, it doesn't necessarily help J.Crew's sales. "I think it's difficult to equate it into dollars," Lyons said when asked about if the brand would see an increase in sales. "One of the reasons [is because Michelle Obama] shops like other Americans [off the rack or online]. Oftentimes we don't know if she's going to wear [J.Crew] so the item may not be available or might be on sale."

In fact, Lyons told the Today Show that the brand would actually be discontinuing some of the styles worn by the Obama family.

"The lady day coat that Malia was wearing has been in our line for years, and we’ll continue that, but we’ll retire the color,” Lyons told Today's Matt Lauer. “We won’t do the color again, just out of respect for the first family.” [ed note: if you act fast, you can still purchase the coat in plum for $325]

Ditto for Michelle's sparkly (and rather divisive) belt. “That belt was actually a sash. She fashioned it into a belt around the coat,” Lyons said. “We won’t rerun that. She did her own thing to that, and out of respect, we’ll let her have her that moment.”

The Obamas' endorsement, though, still helps the brand. "We do see increased awareness," Lyons said, adding that the first question she gets asked by fans who recognize her is "Have you met the First Family?" (The answer is no.)

Later on in the CNN interview, Lyons was somewhat awkwardly asked how she felt about Obama mentioning gay rights in his Inaugural speech. Though the question kind of came out of left field, Lyons was as poised as ever.

"I think I feel incredibly lucky to be living in a time where that's part of the inaugural speech," she said. "Obviously I'm not a pundit at all, but I certainly hope that people will continue to be more open going forward."