Madewell Debuts First Collection by New Head of Design Joyce Lee for Spring 2016

Fans of the brand can expect more of what they love, but with some extra feminine, vintage and personalized touches thrown in.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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Fans of the brand can expect more of what they love, but with some extra feminine, vintage and personalized touches thrown in.
A personalized denim jacket from the Madewell spring 2016 collection.

A personalized denim jacket from the Madewell spring 2016 collection.

When it comes to Madewell’s spring collections, there are a few things we've come to expect: the brand's signature denim in warm weather-appropriate cuts, travel-inspired separates and accessories, day dresses that are as cute as they are comfortable and lightweight knits ideal for layering in transitional temperatures. But that isn't to say there aren't elements of newness, and that's especially the case for spring 2016, which is the first collection designed (and styled) under the direction of Joyce Lee — previously the right-hand woman to former head of design Somsack Sikhounmuong, who decamped for J.Crew in June. 

"It's nice to be able to take what I've done and expand on it — it's fun for me," Lee said when asked how it felt to walk editors through a collection for the first time. "I'm really excited!" As were we, especially after seeing certain fresh updates to our old favorites. For example, Madewell will offer denim personalization for the first time come spring, and customers can get their names or other special phrases embroidered on a pair of jeans or a classic jacket. "We've had a lot of success with the monogramming on our leather bags, so denim just made so much sense to us," she said. The retailer will also offer a selection of vintage bandanas that shoppers can make their own as well, by adding initials or another personal touch.

Inspired by trips that the team has taken to exotic locales like Mexico and Morocco, Madewell decided to partner with JM Drygoods for a capsule of colorfully embroidered tops, tunics and jackets; in certain stores, a selection of vintage army jackets sewn with the vibrant patterns will be available as well. The theme of wanderlust continues throughout the collection in lace-up nautical tops, rope belts adorned with tassels, sailor buttons on wide-legged pants and cutout rompers and dresses that are summer vacation-ready.

Madewell's boy-meets-girl aesthetic is still prominent, though some of the more tomboyish materials get a sweet update this season, like a tie-front skort and an airy camisole in plaid, as well as body-con dresses and long skirts made from denim. Since Lee has spent seven years working behind-the-scenes at Madewell, fans shouldn't expect the brand's codes to change much beyond a feminine tweak here and a bit of experimentation there. "It's definitely just going to continue from where we've been," she explained. "I just want to keep pushing forward; adding a little feminine touch and being able to take what [the Madewell customer] already has in her wardrobe and going further with it… to refresh [those pieces] and make them feel new."

See Madewell's full spring 2016 lookbook in the gallery below.