What would you do about J.Crew?

Business, Fashion

Has anyone felt this way about J.Crew lately? Comment below!

Response to “J.Crew, We’ve Grown Apart” Article in The Wall Street Journal by Elizabeth Holmes

I should firstly say that I am an avid J.Crew shopper and you will find that many of their pieces make up my wardrobe. Thus, when I came across this article, I was inclined to read it because I, too, have somewhat “grown apart” from the brand in recent years.

The article noted that complaints had been made with regard to poor styling and garment construction, in addition to inconsistent sizing. Before I had made it halfway through the first column of the article, I was already relating. First, within the past year, I have made numerous online orders with J.Crew, and have had to send much of what I bought back due to sizing. Some things were too small, while others too big. Mind you, I have been shopping at J.Crew for many years, so shouldn’t I know my pant size by now? I guess not. Finally, I just gave up because it was too cumbersome to order in three sizes and then deal with returning them all. The piece featured a 40-year-old mother who also noted that she has continually bought less for herself because of the inconsistent sizing. J.Crew is one of the few brands that has die hard followers sporting #JCrewEverything, but now that has changed to #reviveJCrew. If that doesn’t tell you something, than maybe their quarterly earnings will. Once having a $88.1 million profit the year prior, the following year they announced a $657.8 million net loss for the most recent fiscal year ending on January 31. In addition, the article noted, “Sales of J.Crew-branded merchandise rose 4%, to about $2.3 billion in fiscal 2014. J.Crew’s online sales and sales at stores open at least a year … dropped 5% in the fourth quarter.” The women’s fashion market is highly competitive and saturated, thus it is imperative that a brand differentiate themselves. To me, J.Crew was always the brand to go to for your staple pieces, but recently, they have been branching out to trendier designs that frankly, are not as wearable for the everyday woman. At Spring 2015 New York Fashion Week, J.Crew showed a very fashion forward ensemble, but was “not realistic for everyone”. I couldn’t agree more. Every time the J.Crew catalog comes, I get so excited, so I flip through page after page of fashionable looks styled to perfection on models, but I’m not a model, so when I order some of these pieces in, they just are not suitable for typical everyday life. The article also featured the comments of a 32-year-old blogger who urged the use of #reviveJCrew. She noted that, much like me, the catalog excited her to go online and purchase items, but now she resorts to eBay to purchase some of the old J.Crew pieces which are no longer being made. Obviously a proponent of hashtags, J.Crew debuted #jcrewclassics and the April catalog featured a section designated to “The Classics”. Like I said earlier, to me that’s what I think the everyday woman looked to J.Crew for: reliable, well-made, and well-fitting clothing. Maybe this April catalog was a step back towards their roots. Today, however, it seems to me as though that once successful business model has changed even though their demographic remains the same. In the midst of trying to appeal to a younger, more fashion forward crowd, they sacrificed what made them so popular and what made them have such loyal shoppers. A 30-year-old personal stylist noted that she prefers buying the brand at consignment or resale stores, therefore indicating that the less expensive, older styles may be more appealing. The article also commented on the slew of sales that J.Crew has rolled out over the past few months, and good ones at that. An 18-year-old college student noted that she would never pay full price for a J.Crew item. Why should she? I can’t remember the last time that I didn’t wait until a sale came along to purchase an item, because 1) I knew a sale was coming, and 2) the item would still be there. Most times, I even waited, because there was always a better sale after the first. So if it wasn’t something I desperately needed, why pay more than I have to? Similarly, I could just shop the factory store for very similar items that are heavily discounted. While the quality of J.Crew items is better than most, it certainly has declined over the years, as evidenced in the woman featured in the article who still had pieces from the early 1990’s, but her current pieces had defects almost immediately. So I would say bravo to the author of this piece for bringing to light a very prominent issue with a brand so many men, women, and children flock to. As evidenced in their current financial situation, it is imperative that J.Crew begins to address their issues and listen to their customers and reevaluate their demographic.

If you are not a Wall Street Journal subscriber, you can read some of the article and a synopsis from Ashley Lutz at Business Insider.

Photo courtesy of Estrella Fashion Report

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