Madewell's Head Designer Talks Trends, Comfortable Jeans, and How She Shot the Brand's Fall Lookbook From Her Own Home
In the age of Zoom shoots and virtual runway shows, it's become the norm to get creative with fashion from home. That's exactly what Madewell did for its fall 2020 lookbook, enlisting head designer Joyce Lee to stage a shoot straight from the comfort of her own NYC home. The resulting images are right on brand for a retailer that's trend-aware, but never fashion-forward. The clothes and the photos speak to wearability — the pieces we're gravitating towards now more than ever — and spotlights the hero pieces in our closets: great button-downs, cozy cardigans, live-in denim, and house dresses.
That was all by design, as Joyce told us, "I styled each look as I would for my typical day at home, with an emphasis on comfort and cozy layering for fall." Still, you won't find any sweatpants in this mix. Madewell's got a reputable denim collection that's on display here, even while we're all embracing that loungewear life. Joyce stands by the brand's comfortable jeans, spotlighting the most wearable silhouette ahead and reminding us all that "sweatpants can only rule for so long."
Beyond stay-at-home style, Joyce weighs in on trends, the future of fashion, and breaks down the beautiful shoot she pulled off from home. Ahead, see all the photos from Madewell's new fall lookbook, read our interview, and shop the key pieces.
I've definitely seen a renewed creativity in developing a collection preview, with a different process that feels more personal and is hopefully here to stay.
POPSUGAR: It's an impressive feat to have put the shoot together from home. Can you describe how your process shifted in light of our new normal? Do you think this is a short term fix for the climate or more indicative of a lasting industry change?
Joyce Lee: Traditionally, when we approach Madewell's lookbooks, we aim to showcase a wide range of what's to come in the upcoming season. Working remotely has definitely posed a new creative challenge, but the team and I were able to create a preview that feels reflective of everyone's day-to-day experiences.
Thankfully, my husband is a photographer and we were able to create the preview imagery together, which I really enjoyed — the kids even got to sneak into a few photos since they are at home with me everyday. I've definitely seen a renewed creativity in developing a collection preview, with a different process that feels more personal and is hopefully here to stay.
PS: What's your stay-home uniform? What pieces from the collection are your favorites?
JL: Life is definitely different now! Because I'm going from being with the kids in the morning to quickly jumping into Zoom meetings, comfort is my guiding force. My Madewell Dadjeans have been a staple for me when I want to wear a pretty top. I've also been living in easy jumpsuits and house dresses!
PS: Madewell has always been a go-to for denim. In the age where sweatpants rule, what do you predict the must have jean silhouette will look like?
JL: Don't get me wrong, I love a matching sweatsuit, but denim gets such a bad reputation when it comes to comfort! It is possible to find a great, comfortable pair for your body if you find the right fit. Right now, I'm feeling that more loose, relaxed fitting denim, like our Dadjean or other wide-leg styles, will be the go-to this fall. Sweatpants can only rule for so long, and denim can be extremely comfortable when done right.
PS: As we look to fall, are trends still relevant?
JL: With most work and day-to-day activities happening remotely, I think trends are becoming less relevant and people are able to express themselves more freely without the added pressure of impressing someone in the office for instance. There's more freedom to mix and match different wardrobe staples and show off personal style, which is great.
I think trends are becoming less relevant and people are able to express themselves more freely without the added pressure of impressing someone in the office for instance.
PS: In planning for spring 2021, do you suspect there will be a return to more fun fashion, or is the demand for more functional/utilitarian pieces going to last into next year?
JL: I definitely think there will be a return to more fun fashion — that's a priority for me at least! With fashion, there's so much room for creativity and personal expression through style, and I think that is what everyone is looking for at this time - a good outlet for creativity. Sweats have been great, but when we are able to get back to regular life, I think people we'll be excited for the fun, emotional pieces to add to their wardrobes — I predict it will be a great mix of comfortable, utilitarian grounding pieces with some exciting statement elements mixed in.