With fresh-faced models in morbid situations, new book skewers the casual hipness of J. Crew company

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated November 13, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

”J. Crewd” spoofs the J. Crew catalog

With its cutesy copywriting (”(s)mitten with wool”), pretentious color names (glacier), and unnaturally natural-looking models, the J. Crew catalog is ripe for mockery. Enter J. Crewd, Doubleday’s to-the-letter parody of the mail-order preppy handbook. Crewd sprang from the mind of first-time author Justin Racz, 24, who started scrutinizing the catalog while attending Middlebury College in Vermont. ”It’s a too-happy, beautiful world they portray,” says Racz. ”They have [models] high-fiving in a canoe. It gets under your skin when you’re working on calculus eating ramen noodles.” (While Racz was turned down for a J. Crew copywriting position soon after graduation, he says he had the idea for Crewd before his job interview, and he insists that writing the book was ”not out of spite or anything.”)

Crewd skewers Crew’s casual hipness by showing farm-fresh models (mostly Racz’s college buddies) playing Frisbee at a funeral and featuring five different shades of black (from film noir to smoker’s lung). There’s a Ted Kaczyinski collection featuring a ”Unabomber Jacket” in Khmer Rouge, and even ”J. Cloning,” customized children bred in a tube. Crewd is appropriately titled, however; many of the jokes are sophomoric (like the model-on-the-toilet cover photo) as opposed to sartorial. Racz says he had to lose one item of questionable taste — the ”Jackie O Jumper” — because Doubleday (Onassis’ former employer) objected.

J. Crew, meanwhile, doesn’t mind the ribbing. ”We think the editors at Doubleday have done a great job,” says a Crew spokesperson. ”They do need a proofreader, though. ‘Crude’ is misspelled.”

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