J. Crew: Trouble in Paradise?


Let’s talk about this whole J. Crew mess.

No really – let’s discuss it. Bloggers are addressing the issue on Twitter, but because most of their websites revolve around lighter topics like recent trends or must buys, I haven’t seen it circulating as an opinion piece on the actual blogs. And I know we ALL have an opinion on it – but it seems like we are skirting this issue in the hopes that J. Crew will just magically rebound without any work.

Incase you need the background: J. Crew is floundering, and has been for awhile. Here’s some information here that could help fill in about how I personally have been looking at the situation. The short of it: I think that realistically, there is a larger consumer dilemma blocking the success of J. Crew. As a brand, the prices are unrealistic for the people that frequent their stores. It’s not quite a high end brand (in some cases yes, but in others, not at all) and it would seem that on the back end, they are trying to run it as such. It’s become a manifestation of what Jenna Lyons wants and wears, which is simply just too much haute couture for the mass public.

J. Crew decided to transition in a new head of women’s design, plucking the replacement straight from their more successful sister brand, Madewell. This somewhat lateral move makes no sense to me. Madewell, in my eyes, is completely different from J. Crew. Obviously Somsack Sikhounmuong, the previous Madewell head designer and now new employee of J. Crew, knows what he’s doing. He catapulted Madwell to a mid-level of success. I don’t think Madewell is as well known as J. Crew, but nevertheless, its sales are better.

The problem with bringing in someone who has spent the past few years delving deep into one specific type of design (the laid-back, denim based Madewell vibe) is that said person might have a hard time transitioning into the classic look J. Crew once had.

*this is Ann Taylor, a brand that is remaining successful amid all the changes in the retail industry

Apparently, J. Crew’s next move is to open up more Factory stores, it’s outlet counterpart. Although in theory a great idea, it’s not going to change what’s going on at the root of the brand. I consider Factory to be completely different than the main branches of J. Crew – and I certainly do not shop there as much as I shop at J. Crew.

I personally think Jenna Lyons has to go. Currently, she’s the face of the brand, the root of the brand, and as New York Times said, “even if she isn’t responsible for shaping every garment” she still has some role in this whole debacle. To change the brand entirely means she just has to leave. I have a suspicious feeling that her version of J. Crew does not match what the world wants from it, and thus, as long as she is in charge, the brand will head in a direction that is just not accommodating to everyday lifestyles. 

You might be thinking, who am I to make these comments? But in the same vein, who am I to not make these comments? I’m a customer, and every person who spends any money at J. Crew should be someone that the brand seeks to reel back in and impress.

Where I stand: I still go into J. Crew, I still look at their clothes, and on occasion, I still buy things. But mostly only from the sale rack — everything else is unreasonably priced, or given the state of the store, I can just assume it will go on sale eventually.

Where do you stand on the issue? I’m truly curious, so tweet or comment below.

xoxo, Jamie

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3 Responses to J. Crew: Trouble in Paradise?

  1. Nicole says:

    YES JAMIE!!!! I 100% agree. I love Jenna’s personal style and aesthetic… but I do not see her personal style as J. Crew. J. Crew, to me, has always been a brand of very classic garments, until recently, when there are displays in the stores of very “Jenna” garments, at a higher price point (that I don’t want to pay) for items that felt almost out of place at J. Crew. Obviously, the face of a brand can change in time, but I think Jenna was pushing her personal style goals too far into the brand for it to stay successful in J. Crew’s niche market. Think about the sale racks at J. Crew… Was it the classic chino shorts, blouses and cardigans or was it the sequin-y skirts in bright colors, bold printed sets and trendier blouses? Jenna’s brighter, trendier style was not the right fit for J. Crew’s customer base.

    I think that Somsack Sikhounmuong may be able to help J. Crew get back on its feet because he may bring the classic elements back in full focus at J. Crew, rather than just in the back corner of the stores. We’ll see I guess… Great post Jamie!! XO,

    • The Fashion Newcomer says:

      Thank you so much Nicole for this awesome comment. I am so glad you liked the post – it means a lot to me!! I agree that Jenna’s style just doesn’t match up with what customers go to J. Crew for. I hope she either can ease into what the brand is or go and imprint her style ideals elsewhere! xoxo

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