J. Crew is still making one major mistake

J. Crew S/S 2016J. Crew/ InstagramHow did J. Crew’s NYFW show fare?

J. Crew had a generally well-reviewed Spring/Summer 2016 show at New York Fashion Week.

This is great news, considering the classic retailer has been besotted with bad press. Sales have been down for over a year. Customers have responded.

A recent style guide hinted that the brand was getting back to basics

J. Crew is finding its soul again, with designs that made the brand iconic in the first place: gingham, stripes, and heightened classic items.

But for all of these hits, some of these styles still seem a bit wild  — and potentially not what customers want. Ultimately, it will be up to them to decide if the rebooted J. Crew is a place they want to shop.

 

J. Crew showed off its Spring/Summer 2016 collection at New York Fashion Week on September 16.

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All eyes were on the retailer to see if it crashed and burned -- or if the brand knocked it out of the park.

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For the most part, J. Crew's Spring/Summer 2016 collection showed off what the brand does best.

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'The clothes on display, though, were from a familiar playbook, with J. Crew trying to regain market share after a recent sales slump notoriously pinned on one helpless little cardigan, the Tilly,' wrote the New York Times. Tilly was the maligned sweater that supposedly eroded the company's sales.

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Source: New York Times; Business Insider

'At the end of the day, J.Crew remains a brand that truly defines American fashion. It's a label that champions everyday classics with a contemporary twist -- with an effortlessness that others dream of achieving,' wrote Andrea Cheng of InStyle.

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Source: InStyle

In a recent earnings call, CEO Mickey Drexler had promised changes were imminent.

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But for all of the stellar hits, some seemed slightly off-kilter -- like this sequined skirt.

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J. Crew had received criticism for straying for its basics. One customer even wrote a letter to the company and published it online as a plea to the brand to course correct. For the most, it seems like the company was been listening.

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Source: Business Insider; How To Fix J. Crew

Fashion blog 'The Gloss' mocked the off kilter styles a few years back.

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Source: The Gloss

Fashion, of course, remains subjective -- and yes, that shirt-dress is sequined.

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But for the most part, it seems like J. Crew has gotten its classic groove back.

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The brand just might need to do some tweaking.

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After all, the brand's fate doesn't necessarily lie in the hands of fashion editors -- but in the hands of customers.

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As Mickey Drexler put it on a recent earnings call, 'We said on the last call, 2015 would be difficult, and we're doing the best we can do to get the business moving forward,' Drexler said on the call, later adding, 'I did say to the team, the only one who really matters here in terms of judgment is the customer.'

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Next season, Somsack Sikhounmoung -- the former design chief of J. Crew's star sister brand, Madewell -- will debut his first collection as head of women's design. He 'finely tuned' this season, but the next season of J. Crew's ready-to-wear selection will truly have his touch all over it. Former women's design chief Tom Mora was sacked during a major overhaul earlier this year, in which 10% of the company's corporate staff was laid off.

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Source: New York Times; Business Insider

Is J. Crew headed in the right direction? For the most part, yes.

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But only sales can determine if the company has truly made a turnaround.

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''If you're in (this) business, you have a DNA that's optimistic, but I think you'll see a lot of positive changes that have gone on now,' Drexler said on a recent earnings call, 'but until we have a call that speaks to numbers that make all of us happy, we're not happy.'

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'Our job is to give them (customers) what they expect,' Drexler said on a recent earnings call.

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And with J. Crew, quality and top-notch classic looks are key.

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