It's only Wednesday — the unofficial kickoff of New York Fashion Week — and the first, inevitable piece of big designer departure news of the Spring 2018 season is already upon us. A rep for J.Crew confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that Somsack Sikhounmuong has left the company after working there in various roles since 2001. Business of Fashion was first to report the news. Most recently, in April, he effectively replaced Jenna Lyons in the role of chief design officer of the J.Crew brand after her sudden departure. Her exit, of course, was followed by that of CEO Mickey Drexler, who was replaced in June by James Brett.
"While we are sad to see him leave, we respect his decision and wish him all the best," said the rep in a statement. "His current responsibilities, which include the oversight of all product design, will be transitioned to other members of our very seasoned and talented design team currently in place."
Sikhounmuong oversaw J.Crew women's before replacing Lyons; prior to his move, he worked at sister brand Madewell as head of design. And even before that, he was on the team at the company's namesake brand for 12 years. Like Lyons and Drexler, he dedicated much of his career to J.Crew, which has suffered dwindling sales in recent years.
J.Crew confirmed Sikhounmuong would not be replaced and that his roles would be absorbed, which is both interesting and similar to the strategy Gap adopted after it experienced a revolving door of creative directors. Plus, this feels like pretty strange timing for such an announcement from the one mass retailer that has long felt closely linked to fashion and regularly showed during New York Fashion Week — which it won't this season.