To research J.Crew's Spring menswear offering, Frank Muytjens took his team to Prouts Neck, Maine, where the nineteenth-century American landscape painter Winslow Homer kept a studio. As fashion inspirations go, Homer's not the likeliest candidate for canonization. But the spirit of Maine is one Muytjens wanted to channel for his latest men's collection. (In the spirit of synergy, the first model in the lineup even had the evocative name of Henry Barnacle.)

The nautical touch is no cause for alarm. The drop-your-anchor era in menswear, when everything you'd find from landlocked shop to landlocked shop sported a ships-and-sails motif, is, thankfully, mostly over, and these days you can rely on J.Crew to know which way the wind is blowing. In the deft hands of Muytjens and co., the influence of sea and sun was subtle, showing itself in bleached-out shades of bone and rust (unevenly mottled, thanks to garment dyeing, and inspired, the designer said, by the work of Cy Twombly), as well as in the sort of rugged materials a seaman would favor: denim, twill, cotton, and chunky woolen knits. (Printed cotton ties showed up instead of silk; a navy tuxedo jacket was paired with flat-front chinos.) Patchworked motifs ran through key pieces, from a paneled pair of jeans to a smart toggle jacket with corduroy lining. This may have been a Spring collection, but there was a heft to the fabrics and fits that felt true to the dapper outdoorsman Muytjens sees as his customer, whether he ever braves the salty Atlantic or not. And speaking of authenticity, there were the shoes: made-for-the-Crew bucks by Alden, since 1884 of Middleborough, Mass., and Quoddy brick-soled mocs and chukkas, crafted since 1909 in—where else?—Perry, Maine.