- J.Crew is redefining its look as it works to win back customers.
- The namesake brand saw its sales decrease for three consecutive years prior to its most recent fiscal quarter, when comparable sales increased by 1%.
- The new J.Crew is less preppy and more like its successful sister brand, Madewell. It offers more trendy styles and a wider range of sizes.
- But when we visited, we found that one big flaw still remained.
J.Crew is ditching its preppy roots and redefining itself in an effort to win back customers.
The once hugely popular preppy brand had been on a downward spiral until its most recent fiscal quarter, when it saw comparable sales increase by 1%. Prior to that, sales had slipped for three consecutive years.
Part of why the brand has consistently struggled is that some customers see it as overpriced, generic, and even “wannabe trendy.” Former J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons left in early 2017 and was followed by longtime CEO Mickey Drexler.
Now, J.Crew is trying to redefine itself by branching out beyond its iconic preppy style and offering a wider variety of styles and sizes.
“You can’t be one price. You can’t be one aesthetic. You can’t be one fit,” new CEO Jim Brett said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
It’s also looking to its more successful sister brand, Madewell, for inspiration, adding products like sweaters with French slogans and high-waisted denim pieces that are more likely to be found at Madewell.
We visited a J.Crew store in New York City shortly after the rebrand launched. Here’s what we found:
We visited the J.Crew store at Brookfield Place in New York City. The store window read “The New Mix.”
There was also a sign in the front of the store that explained the philosophy behind “The New Crew.” It ended with: “Coming together, doing what you love, wearing what you love.”
There were a ton of new products from the Point Sur brand, including basic sweaters, denim jackets, maxi skirts, and fur vests.
But it wasn’t cheap — this plain sweater cost $US98. In fact, almost nothing in the store costs under $US95, despite high prices being one of the biggest customer complaints J.Crew has faced in recent years.
There was a revamped denim shop …
… with signs advertising an additional selection online. J.Crew has faced criticism in the past for offering limited sizing and fits, but the new line is addressing that by offering more sizing online.
There were definitely more trendy styles that you might find at a fast-fashion retailer, but the prices were often upwards of $US200.
There were also styles that might be found at J.Crew’s sister store, Madewell. This sweater mimicked Madewell’s collaborations with the Paris-based brand Sézane. Again, it wasn’t cheap — it cost $US118.
The accessories were still pretty preppy …
… and they were almost as expensive as the clothes. Sunglasses cost almost $US60.
J.Crew had a few basics like T-shirts. A plain white T-shirt cost $US36.
There were also graphic tees, but we couldn’t find prices labelled on any of them. The graphic tees were definitely a change from the more preppy styles J.Crew is known for.
The men’s department next door didn’t seem to have changed too much style-wise …
… but it definitely seemed to be a bit cheaper than the women’s department. This shirt called $US69.50.
Men’s long-sleeve shirts were half the price of similar women’s T-shirts.
Even though the styles seemed more in line with Madewell, the prices were still pretty high. The new J.Crew seemed to address some of the issues the company has struggled with, but the store is ultimately still pretty expensive.
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