Before J.Crew was bankrupt—before it was even an ascendant force in menswear—J.Crew was a catalog business. It was established in 1983, and seven years later their lush picture books were hitting the mailboxes of three million potential customers at the frequency of fourteen times a year (12,000 on Manhattan’s Upper East Side alone, J.Crew’s founder and then-chairman Arthur Cinader boasted). By 2005 the circulation was at 55 million with 20 annual editions, with a nascent internet nipping at its heels. Today, fans wax poetic about these brochures: the friendly, scrubbed (and, it should be noted, almost exclusively white) faces; the models who were attractive but not intimidating; the studied nonchalance of the styling. These mailers were revolutionary in that they didn’t just sell apparel but placed the clothes in a context of wholesome, preppy outdoorsiness. They sold you a fetching fisherman’s sweater, sure—but borrowing from a method Ralph Lauren had spent years perfecting, J.Crew also sold you the lifestyle in which it would best exist. See more at GQ.