What to do with J.Crew?

Jacquelyn Hart, Copy Editor

In May, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “J.Crew, We’ve Grown Apart” outlining recent issues with the brand. The article noted that complaints had been made with regard to poor styl- ing, garment construction, and inconsistent sizing. J.Crew is one of the few brands that has diehard fol-lowers sporting #JCrewEverything, but now this has changed to #reviveJCrew.

The women’s fashion market is highly competitive and saturated, so brands really need to stand out. To me, J.Crew was always the go-to brand for your staples, but recently, they have been branching out to trendier designs that are not as wearable for the everyday woman. J.Crew debuted #jcrewclassics, and the April catalog featured a section designated to “The Classics,” possibly in an attempt to return to their roots.

Apparently this is not only an issue for the women’s department. Senior Devon Riley noted, “I really go into J.Crew [to] see what’s new,” but heads down the street to Brooks Brothers for his staples. While the Princeton store still caters to the J.Crew-loving prep school and university students, he added, “I … notice … a different demographic, almost a hipster trend … it’s shifted out of my view of what I want to wear.”

Today, it seems to me as though a once-successful business model has changed even though their demographic remains the same. Riley gave further insight and noted that he thought J.Crew is becoming less relevant compared to other stores like Urban Outfitters and Vineyard Vines, which are becoming increasingly strong. “As these other brands become stronger … J.Crew has nowhere really to go, and I think that’s probably why they’re changing … but I don’t think it’s really helping them, it’s just changing [their] audience,” he said.

In the midst of trying to appeal to a younger, more fashion-forward crowd, J.Crew has sacrificed what initially made them so popular and gave them such loyal shoppers. While the quality of J.Crew items is better than most other brands, it certainly has declined over the years, as shown by an interview in the WSJ article, in which a woman said that she still had pieces from the early 1990’s, but her current pieces had defects almost immediately.

So, the question emerges: What do we do with J.Crew? Evidently, according to PR Newswire, things do not look to be improving, with reported first quarter decreases in sales, revenue, margins, and a net loss of $462,400,000 compared to just $30,100,000 the first quarter of last year. J.Crew’s more recent addition, Madewell, offering more contemporary clothing reported a sales increase of 33 percent, however. Moving forward, J.Crew will be forced to figure out just how they intend to cater to a diverse audience, while not forgetting where they started.