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(Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images; Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty I)
For Jenna Lyons, Michelle Obama has been the best endorsement J. Crew has ever received. At American Express' New York Fashion Week Sky Box, the J. Crew president opened up today about the first lady, explaining that she and her family get nothing for free.
"They go to our website and they purchase just like anybody else," Lyons said. "She acts like a customer and she has a stylist who helps her, but she doesn't call in any special favors. They don't ask for any discounts. It's pretty unbelievable. … She still continues to wear the product without any help from us."
Lyons added that Obama's penchant for J. Crew clothing has been "the most incredible gift that keeps on giving." Not only did the company see a "huge lift" in business, Lyons credited Obama, 48, with creating a special bond with customers.
"The fact that they had something they had, that they owned a sweater that Michelle wore. For a lot of people, it's been an incredible point of connection, a way for them to connect to her through us," she said.
When Obama appeared on "The Tonight Show" in 2008 and told Jay Leno that her yellow sweater, skirt and blouse were a "J.Crew ensemble," the company's stock went up 8.2 percent. In 2011, Business Insider credited her with contributing to one of the most successful re-branding campaigns ever. Has this led J. Crew to cater to more mainstream celebrities in search of a similar boost?
"We just got asked to do something for somebody for the Oscars, literally this morning. I said, 'When are the Oscars? Two weeks? No way.' We can't turn samples and make really good-quality clothes on such a tight timeline," Lyons said. "I certainly love the idea but we're not set up that way. If someone wants to wear a feathered skirt and a cashmere sweatshirt, then 'yes.'"