All-American: J.McLaughlin

WHO: Kevin McLaughlin (right, in chair), co-founder of classic American sportswear clothing and accessories line J.McLaughlin with brother, Jay (right, standing)


CAREER CHANGE: Despite neither having a fashion background, the brothers opened their first store in Manhattan’s Upper East Side 38 years ago and now operate more than 80 locations


CREATING A LIFESTYLE: Each store intends to evoke a residential feel by mimicking local architecture—no two outposts are the same


IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: The brand recently opened a location in Boca Raton and revamped its Vero Beach store



What can we expect from J.McLaughlin’s resort collection?

This season, we really wanted to create clothes that were very elegant but also extremely effortless. Many of the pieces can go from the plane to the hotel to the poolside bistro. The look is elevated but approachable, with colors and prints you’d likely see on Gasparilla Island or on Worth Avenue.


What’s your favorite piece in the collection?

The new Lola dress (left) is a standout. I was inspired by an ikat rug I saw at an auction and thought it would be fun to combine the global vibe of an ikat print with bright resort colors and present them in a classic silhouette that flatters every figure.


How does the collection fit into the Palm Beach lifestyle?

The Palm Beach [client] is confidently stylish. She gets noticed before her outfit does. She is often on the go and needs stylish clothes that can go from brunch to sunset drinks without the slightest wrinkle. Many of our tops and dresses are crafted from our signature Catalina Cloth. 


Tell us about your use of colors.

The color palette is classic resort. We use blue in all its forms like marine, turquoise, powder and navy. Bright shades like coral, lemon, emerald and rose add just enough pop. Then there is white. There is nothing fresher and more classic than a pair of white jeans.


J.McLaughlin’s stores are meant to mimic a residential feel. How do you think this impacts the shopping experience?

At J.McLaughlin, we … try to integrate each location into the lives of our customers. From the dog treats we offer at each shop to the number of local charities we partner with, we really feel strongly about becoming a productive member of each community we are in. The stores are also designed with a nod to local architecture—we want customers to feel like they are visiting a neighbor, comfortable enough to sit down and relax.


What inspired you to enter the fashion realm?

While attending business school, I worked for a clothing company on the side and Jay was renovating brownstones in Brooklyn. After a few years, I realized I wasn’t interested in Wall Street, and Jay and I just did it—we saw a hole in the market for traditional American sportswear and opened our first store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. We’ve kept on for 35 years because we honestly love what we do.


What memories stand out to you from the past 35 years?


We opened our first store in 1977, right as prep was really hitting its stride. It was the era of the Annie Hall look, and our store was slammed. During the weekends, the shop was packed—we had to hire a doorman, and it was one in, one out. We knew we were doing something right and never looked back.


You and Jay started the business when you were both in your 20s. What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Make peace with risk. Be prepared to fail. Be positive about succeeding.


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