Can Hypebeast Magic Revive J. Crew?

Oct 27, 2022 · 199 comments
Jenna Lyons completely took the wind out of J. Crew's "sales." Nice to see it's coming back. Slowly but surely. (Now, it's your turn Andy Cohen ... the more things change ...sigh)
GG (San Francisco)
I've long been a customer of this brand, but pulled back in the last few years, as quality went down. I just bought a basic long-sleeve turtle neck knit top, a staple that I repurchase from them every few years. This time, the neck doesn't go over my head, and the neck seam burst. No, my head did not get magically bigger! It looks like they used a cheaper non-stretchable stitch to sew the neckline to the collar. So disappointing.
LF (Here)
@Tim you are so right. The chinos fit weird in the women’s line, too. Returned those immediately. The fav black blazer I just posted about is an older piece, so quality is a question for sure depending on what the piece of apparel is - good point.
LF (Here)
Wore my black J. Crew buttonless blazer the other day - total classic. Great fit!
Brian (Oregon)
I still buy thee occasional J Crew piece. I have found that the more traditional preppy offerings I have bought still have solid quality. The trendier stuff, not so much, but then I wouldn't wear them anyway, I'm too old for the skater look.
Demosthenes (NY)
Stick to preppy basics. You can’t go wrong.
Orlo (Dûern)
Babenzien can’t even dress himself. The November Collection is The Gap twenty years ago. He’s gotta go.
Tim (Los Angeles)
J.Crew: Read the comments here. It's about QUALITY. Before you start courting pop artists and Influencers to "collab," I strongly advice you go back to your roots, and back to the basics. Your chinos are ill-fitting. Shorts look and feel cheap. Boxers are either cheap or don't last (I've owned many). collared shirts, cheap and look awful after one wash. Your shoes are terrible -- heavy, pain-inducing knock-offs. J.Crew used to be great. You can be again if you step back, then step up and LEAD with classic style and QUALITY. LOSE THE OUTLETS, they're killing your reputation, and the brand.
McMo💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙❤️‍🔥 (Seattle)
You hit the nail on the head. I’ve moved away from J.Crew because quality has gone downhill. My older stuff is all still lovely, fully lined wool coats, cashmere sweaters with correct seams and good weight, dresses with appropriately sized arm holes. The offerings now are on par with their “ factory” line, cheap! Bring back elevated basics, playful colors and quality workmanship.
Diana M (London, UK)
Yes - it’s strange how they never got their core audience weren’t raging fashionistas, rather people who liked classics with a bit of twist in quality fabrics and workmanship. I have a roll neck sweater from them from 1996(!!!) and it still looks great! Last year’s cashmere sweater purchase has so much pilling it looks like a design feature.
Kevin Roy (Brooklyn)
I’ll say, thank God for Todd Snyder. He might’ve perfected the recipe as a hired gun, or whatever this story said. But you know what he’s also done? Unashamedly stocked XXL clothes in his stores for larger men that have some money in their pockets. J Crew, by account of three different NYC store managers, does not stock XXL in their men’s stores. Are they embarrassed us larger guys might wear their clothing? What is the rationale here? If you make them and they fit us, we’re generally good brand ambassadors. But, I suppose, to Mr Babenzien, we’re monsters who don’t deserve to wear his J Crew. I’m about to spend another thousand bucks at Todd Snyder this week out of spite. Screw sizeist companies. Screw J Crew.
SLCraft (Richmond, VA)
@Kevin Roy I am a Todd Snyder fan, his quality is the quality JCrew had when I was in high school. I actually modeled for a cover back in the day when they were still here in Virginia in the 1980s. Meeeeemoriessss
Carolyn (Charleston, SC)
Has anyone seen the episode of the Simpsons where dads start wearing Supreme?
WSGNY (New York, NY)
J. Crew's founder was Arthur Cinader. Arthur Cinader, Who Started J. Crew, Avatar of Preppy Style ... His great strength was fully understanding the lifestyle and wants of his customers and then creating fashions that filled their needs.
L M (lacey wa)
My closet used to be predominantly jcrew and then the quality started feeling like Zara or h&m. And now the jcrew pieces I still have are old. I don’t want to buy junk and for at least ten years, that’s what they’ve been selling…
Woodsy (Northeast)
I love classics done with a twist -- a color, a detail -- but most of all I want quality. Enough with jeans that are full of stretch and that sag within an hour after I've left the house. I want 100% denim. No more shirts with phrases and embellishments sewn on, I'm not a child. Make more petite sizes (and be size inclusive, generally). I shop for vintage J.Crew and have the old heavy cotton and wool sweaters that never go out of style. But anything blended with polyester or cheap cashmere has to stop.
McMo💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙❤️‍🔥 (Seattle)
J.crew cashmere is downright MUSHY these days! It’s not soft or sumptuous anymore. Such a disappointment because they offer a lovely color palette!
I aged out of J Crew. I found this out about 4 years ago when I bought shorts and was disappointed to find that the back pockets were 1” deep and the front pockets didn’t fit my hands. They were show pockets. I loved J Crew’s preppy, easy to wear style and nothing on the market has replaced them.
McMo💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙❤️‍🔥 (Seattle)
I’ve been buying from Tuckernuck and Sézane. Not exactly the same, but making it work. Do watch the fabrics at Tuckernuck though, hit and miss.
Gary (MD)
Wow. I am soooo excited to buy clothes with large red rectangular JCrew logos screen printed on them, because that will finally show everyone just how much I love large red rectangular JCrew logos! OMG, with Babbyzen at the helm we are in for such amazing style, as long as you define style as clothes with large red rectangular logos screen printed on them. After all, what could possibly be more stylish than large red rectangular logos? SupremeTM was almost as cool as a Barbara Kruger photo collages that it ripped off, except, like, totally derivative and monotonous and non-subversive. And now he's bringing that genius to JCrew!
XOOOOX (pdx)
Make classics. Not out of plastic. Done.
CRB (Michigan)
As a long time J. crew fan, longtime Babenzien fan from Supreme to Noah and knowledge of his successful brother who created greats footwear, I have very high hopes for the style god! He has immediately impacted the J Crew collections with his creative twist and dressed down tailored looks with a skater edge. Nothing was needed more than a revamp. He makes me more proud to be a J Crew fan! He’s doing great. Trust me who wears Lubiam, Canali, Brooks Bros, Todd Snyder, and J Press!
Oboe (NY)
@CRB style god? Yikes. Religion is the opiate of the masses.
denise falcone (nyc)
I’m skeptical whether they can comeback from such a very very dark and scary place,
newpolitcaljunkie (Milwaukee)
I started buying J. Crew years and years ago. And stopped when their quality started to hit the skids. You can have the most wonderfully designed, trendy or classic styling, but without good fabric and craftsmanship…… have nothing. So please, please……..bring back more than colors and styling. I’d love to be a customer again!
Cordelia (Mountain View, CA)
We are only buying 100% cotton, silk, linen, wool these days. No polyester, elastane, rayon, nylon, acrylic, nor polyamides. Scientists have been finding microplastic fibers everywhere. In our water, our air, our food, our bodies, Antartica. We don't know yet how it's affecting us and how it will affect future generations. Recycled polyester is popular right now, but it doesn't fix the problem. Recycled plastics still shed microplastics, sometimes at a faster rate. It's not hopeless though. Let your favorite clothing manufacturers know that we want sustainable options that will keep our environment safe for the future.
Ralph (USA)
@Cordelia Agreed. Not only for environmental reasons, but because what is designed to stretch will invariably cling. Not a good look on anyone. That said, J. Crew lost me by not having sizes that most people can wear, and not having stock. I’m not going to order something online unless I’m sure it will fit.
Charles (New York)
I liked J. Crew a lot in the early 2010s. I even went to the Liquor Store for an event it had with Monocle. It felt like Freemans but less expensive. That said, I have not seen a single thing I would want to buy for the last several years. It has looked the exact same, year to year, season to season. I actually went to J. Crew today because I was at The Westchester mall. It didn't seem like anything had changed, and I found the store to be a little depressing. But good luck to him and to the company!
Cathy (Michigan)
Babanzien's approach sounds spot on to me. I would buy those sweaters, carpenter pants, and shorts. They sound like classics with a stylish, interesting twist, which I always saw as J Crew's niche in the Jenna Lyons days. That said, I buy almost all my J Crew now on ThredUp for environmental reasons.
R (Virginia)
Nobody that age should be wearing jeans with cuffs turned up three inches.
Ryan Burkhart (Austin, Texas)
@R Why?
Pia (Las Cruces NM)
@R Word.
Logic Science and Truth (Seattle)
@R Are you the fashion police? Let people wear whatever they want.
ANewYorker (New York)
Don't make cheap clothes.
ASP (San Francisco)
Am I correct the article does not list what position Mr. Babenzien occupies at J. Crew and when he was appointed?
CDub (Chicago)
He was appointed in May 2021. His first collection debuted in August 2022. Hope that helps.
@ASP - - the article should make it clear that Mr Babenzien is menswear creative director. Olympia Gayot is head of womens wear and kids.
amrit (Rockaway)
Since Jenna Lyons "left" J. Crew has been floundering. I haven't bought anything there that I ended up keeping in several years. Weird fabric, even weirder fit. The fact that the reworked Giant Chinos are popular is no surprise, but where are the quality wool jackets and other staples that J. Crew was known for. Bring back Harris tweed jackets for women and maybe an upscale loafer. Lyons understood J. Crew and managed to mix the classic with great colors and accessories. They should have paid her what she was worth.
Mickey (Front Range)
@amrit I couldn’t agree more. Back at the time when Jenna led the company, not only would you find the quality, style and colors. In addition, the clothing was offered with a guarantee. And should there be an issue, that guarantee entitled the owner to the replacement of a garment at no cost and with no questions asked. Alas, I’m often chided for my collection of pristine “Giant” chinos. >sigh< a reminder of a simpler time.
Chris (Jersey City)
here's a crazy idea: stop designing styles exclusively for young guys who are 130 pounds soaking wet.
Kelly Green (Vermont)
Please, J.Crew, start making a wool suit again that I can wear to court.
Bird (Virginia)
I stopped buying j crew when the quality went down. From the other comments, it seems the quality has returned. I'll check it out.
Baba (Afield)
@Bird It hasn't. There are still problems with fit. Sure, there are a few items here and there that evoke early J Crew quality and fit, but for the most part little has changed.
Claytronica (MA)
Just go more Patagonia (quality, ethics), than H&M (fast fashion garbage, no ethics). - and they’ll be ok.
RobertF (Virginia)
Babenzien lost me with his white socks and horizontal striped, prison garb t-shirt.
Bayleaves (Denver)
"Just in time for the grandpacore trend comes J. Crew’s new giant chinos.'' :(
Vreeland (NY NY)
J crew style? No. J crew was never a style source. J crew was just constantly recycling basic generic common “looks”. Ralph Lauren had already recycled this long before and so much better plus he updated classic American style... and continues to today meanwhile J Crew, Tommy Gofigure etc just copy Ralph’s copies and originals. Pay attention
Jeff (Iowa)
Glad I'm not the only one rolling my eyes at this. Wow they have a concept shop in Manhattan - that impacts approximately 0% of customers. Wow they have giant chinos that look good on models - I'm a normal-looking person and 130 lb, those would look ridiculous on me. Just make quality clothes, stock more fits for skinny people (yes we exist), and stay on trend without descending into fast fashion hell - and you will have my $$$ forever. Thankfully J.Crew seems to be heading more in this direction.
Woot woot (Minneapolis)
As a Midwestern male, J Crew represents the preppy dress style of elite New Yorkers. Men who just attend dinner parties and network, who don't know a screw driver from a drill. When I was in college in the early 90's, J Crew was most of my wardrobe. Upon entering the work force; having spent most of the work week in a suit, stiff wool tweed jackets and a tie worn on the weekend are the last thing any Midwestern male wants. J Crew became irrelevant when my desire be preppy on the weekends, was replaced by mature adult domestic activities. Grocery shopping, a trip to Target or a hardware store don't require clothes the like of J Crew. J Crew's price points also became ridiculous for items that I would very occasionally to a dinner party. The preppy lifestyle was aspirational in college and irrelevant as an adult. I think most men think like me and J Crew's revenues matched those sentiments.
James (Toronto)
@Woot woot yup. You nailed it. And when the main store started showing shoes over $1000 the ‘aspirational’ fun had devolved into absolute cynicism
Mike (Manhattan)
Both of you have a very distorted view of how New Yorkers think, act, dress and spend their free time.
Deb (NYC)
No matter hpw many times J.Crew screws up I'm always a fan. I have faith.
LINDA (East)
Will somebody tell me please tell me what a "hypebeast" is??
L (DC)
I have been J Crew fan since .. 1988? This fall, I went to J crew, and the quality has just gone down I didn't look for Mr. Babenzien's design, even if I knew what that is. I felt some sweaters and jackets and they are not what they used to be. Supreme was all about hypes, and that might explain why quality is missing at J Crew. It's too bad. and Yes I remember the Ludlow suits- they had quality and style although pricy, and you can nab at sales. They had quality fabric/ textile.
CRB (Michigan)
@L Quality has stepped up with Babenzien, the Kenmare Geo sportcoat is spot on sitting in my high end wardrobe. What he brought to Supreme 15 years ago was quality such as Loro Piana and liberty fabrics, when he left it all went down hill. He created Noah NY which is to implement his true visions! Give it a look, you’ll see Brendan using the highest quality materials in his loose stylings. Now at @ J. crew he must meet a budget and hit quality in one which isn’t easy and at Noah he does whatever he wants.
Imogen (Massachusetts)
I gradually figured out as I read that the author is only focusing on the menswear line of this brand (I mean, I think that's what's happening?), but it was so confusing. It kind of came across like the women's side of the business obviously doesn't matter as much as the MEN, so we don't even bother mentioning them. Also, does J Crew need to be cool? Couldn't it just be ... good?
Demosthenes (NY)
@Imogen The brand went south when they tried to be cool. Classic wasn’t enough. Preppy wasn’t enough. Change isn’t always a good thing. Niche markets exist for a reason.
JAC (New Orleans)
J Crew lost it's way when 1) they followed the outsourcing trend and lowered quality, 1a) they became dependent on lower-quality outlet locations for profits (even Ralph succumbed to that temptation), and 2) they drank the Thom Browne skinny suit Kool-Aid and became unwearable for anyone over the age of 25. J Crew was at its best when it was a bridge between stores like LL Bean or GAP and higher end prep/classic offerings like Brooks Brothers (also currently trying to reinvent) or Ralph Lauren's in-store offerings. I have a few, treasured things from the glory days that I rotate through, and I'm considering buying the tweed overcoat Mr. Babenzien is wearing in his photo. I wish him well.
Read this and a bunch of comments. I don't wear JCrew, but out of curiosity, just went to the website to take a look. The clothing (to me) is utterly boring and doesn't even look good on the models. Is it high-end LLBean or low end Polo? I'm not really that good looking, I mean, I wouldn't "kick me out of bed for eating crisps" as they say, but I've have dressed well and have a sense of style - no way will I buy JCrew. IMHO, a total snoozefest.
Anto (Acci)
I will agree with almost every other comment here saying that the reason J. Crew dropped in popularity is directly related to its drop in quality. When I wore J. Crew clothing, 20 years ago, Their suits were made in Italy of Italian wool, as were their sweaters. I went into a store about 5 years ago and couldn't believe how cheap everything looked. Stop trying to be "streetwear cool" and just make good clothes.
Oboe (NY)
Prediction for 2023 because history loves repeating itself: Jenna Lyons leaves Real Housewives of NY and is replaced by Estelle Bailey-Babenzien.
Zeke (NYC)
J. Crew is an old brand that is in its 8th inning. 5 years, if not sooner, it'll either be OOB or bought by some uber-brand
lars (France)
I'm all for a looser cut, wider leg chino, but I was surprised to see in the photo of the back of those pants that the back dart (above the not-so-well made welt pockets) goes right through the waistband. A construction faux pas of extraordinary dimensions. No pun intended.
CountryBoy (WV)
Quality merchandise counts [still] and offshoring for profits often means less quality; hence J Crews demise.
Robert (Virginia)
Always thought J. Crew is an overpriced Eddie Bauer. And I buy Polo which is always available at good prices just about anywhere plus their decent on-line sales. I have been buying Old Navy too which have surprisingly decent quality at almost throwaway prices.
kent (nashville)
as with so many others, i was waiting for the paragraph dedicated to the astonishing drop in quality from j. crew - sadly, that's not referenced but it's 100% the reason that i haven't purchased anything from the brand in 5+ years. maybe 10. if j. crew wants to reinvent itself, bring manufacturing back to the us and commitment to quality apparel - quite an epiphany.
GBR (The Northeast)
Gosh, I'm 46 now and recall J Crew as being a good quality/ "high end" brand when I was in my teens, in the 1990s. Last I bought anything from them was 15 years or so ago .... and it had deteriorated in quality. Pendelton, Orvis, and Brooks Bros are still decent bets - though their quality has also gone downhill as well in recent years....
Sam (Los Angeles)
@GBR Hah. I am glad I am not the only one. I wonder how much of that impression had to do with our low sartorial budgets?
GBR (The Northeast)
@Sam Fair point! That may very well be the case.
Baba (Afield)
@Sam It doesn't, because this has been the trend for many years. Overall the industry relies on cheaper and poor construction and quality. One of the things that struck me when I started working back in the office was seeing people on the streets and realizing how cheaply made their clothes were. In particular it was noticeable for the women who had on mostly rayon-like items.
KKelly (Chicago)
Umm, those hues on the Fair Isle ARE traditional.
Ruth (Australia)
I enjoy Guy Trebay's writing but at this time, another bit of PR for fast fashion lines seems tone deaf. A bunch of cool images aren't going to help help J Crew or the multiple environmental problems the clothing industry creates. Many of us want better reporting on the clothes we buy, who makes them, how they're made and what kind of circular economy they've built.
Wylie Shipman (Burlington, VT)
I buy button downs and flannels from the Amazon essentials brand for $18 that are at the level of quality J Crew had before they went down the tubes. Spare me the lecture about Amazon being evil, I doubt J Crew’s sourcing is beyond reproach. Anyway, if I wanted “street wear” J Crew is the last place I’d go.
Stale frybread (Ohlone land)
Hypebeast "magic" is done. Streetwear hasn't been cool for a while. Seeing it at J Crew is just beating a dead horse.
Hoping For Sanity (In An Overpopulated World)
The best way to turn around any mid-tier clothing company like J Crew is to stop charging outrageous prices for cheaply made, poor quality clothing Made in China. Better yet, stop making everything in China altogether. Chinese products have a terrible quality control and worker abuse history. Sure, some executives and investors became wealthy (some became obscenely wealthy) by moving everything to China. But I'm gonna go with a "hard nope out" on a $100-200-300 shirt made in China. If I'm forced to buy clothing made in China (which the majority of clothes are) then I'm going to buy the low-tier $25 shirt that is nearly indistinguishable (in terms of quality) from the mid- or upper-tier shirt probably made in the same manufacturing site.
Sam (Los Angeles)
@Hoping For Sanity Are you also not buying made in China Apple and Samsung smartphones and tablets? Made in China can be high quality. It is just that the carbon footprint is too high and we have remnants of a high-quality clothing industry in US still that we should be patronizing instead of spending money on over-expensive coffee. Low-end brands like H&M have a devastating impact on the environment. Keeping it local would be a better slogan.
Future of Whether (Austin)
@Hoping as someone who lived in Asia for almost a decade building supply chains for apparel brands your assessment is incorrect, shallow and misinformed. Because of offshoring China and S.East Asia are the leaders in producing quality clothing the US has mostly lost this knowledge and frankly makes some of the cheapest poorest quality clothing around. Most large reputable retailer’s have stringent QA/QC protocol and I have seen a garment from Target that is better made then a designer piece. The moral/ethical issues around offshoring in the first place is for a different thread. Poor quality comes at the direction of the retailer’s themselves who cling to a margin and economic profile that doesn’t exist anymore and many of these retailers are in America. China declared a long time ago they do not want to be the worlds workshop for cheap clothes anymore. I had a saying when I left Asia in 2016 “China is the new Italy!”
Herbert Adler (Pittsburgh PA)
You have it backwards—Italy is the new China. All the “made in Italy” tags showing up lately are from factories in Italy owned and run by the Chinese who employ mostly Chinese nationals (see article in NYT from a few years ago). The quality reflects that. And yes, Chinese and other Asian countries do have an earned reputation for poor quality *apparel*. Shoes branded “Ecco” I’ve bought that were beautifully made and well-fitted when stamped “made in Portugal” were laughably cheaply manufactured and mis-sized when production moved to China. The shift from a regulated labor and sourcing market to an unregulated one didn’t reduce the retail price, only the quality. But oh, the increase in profit!
Marianne (Canada)
What about saving the women's and kids' sides of J. Crew? Their Crewcuts line was a staple of my child's wardrobe, until maybe four years ago, when they just kept repeating the same ideas with cheaper materials. (Great, another t-shirt with a start in flip sequins, just like the last 3 years, except this one is striped instead of solid...sigh.) What happened to the brand that the female Obamas could look to for "affordable" (still expensive but not high end) designer clothing? It's been gone for years. Now my teen won't look twice at their clothes.
Wylie Shipman (Burlington, VT)
@Marianne I used to like the mens section at Old Navy until the moved it into a single dressing room stall to make room for the womens and kids sections.
Alexis (Cleveland)
Cool means nothing without quality. I love J. Crew but the quality of their clothing has dropped so much I can no longer justify the prices, which haven't dropped at all. I'm not going to pay a premium for trendy garbage that will fall apart after one season when I have so many other options, many of them sustainably and ethically manufactured, at the same price point that J. Crew is asking.
k francis (laupahoehoe hawaii)
Spouse of k francis here: I guess Mr. Babenzien successfully subverted the gender stereotype once again by simply removing women from his collection. It might have been really "cool" to show one/other dressed in one of those suits or ties.
R (NY)
@k francis Babenzien is at the helm of J. Crew men's, not the entire company. That said, there are women on the J.Crew men's Instagram - much to the chagrin of the narrow-minded.
k francis (laupahoehoe hawaii)
@R Good to hear! Wondering if someone ever recommended just a J.Crew design - no gender declaration required?!
R (NY)
@k francis My guess would be yes, but, as some of these comments show, a lot of their customers don't seem ready for much that veers from the binary setup. The good news is that anyone can buy anything they want, regardless of who it's "intended" for.
D (St. Paul)
The golden age of j crew was the 80s-early aughts period that encompassed classic basics cut well and made with quality materials. I remember this period well, when j crew was based out of Virginia and privately held. I still have clothing going strong from this era. J crew went downhill fast when it sold the company and the clothing made under Jenna lyons was tacky, cheaply made and not chic.
L M (lacey wa)
@D agreed. Jenna Lyons ruined jcrew for me.
Larrea (Los Angeles)
What I've long wished for is a men's clothing company that's something like a Patagonia for casual attire--just strictly for the city. A men's wear company that uses excellent materials, builds to high standards, with the highest ethics, unlimited lifetime support for the product (recycling, repairs, etc.), ethical and published supply chains, ethical, better-than-fair-trade policies for vendors, etc. As well, with an image and marketing that doesn't attempt to paint a picture of something it's not (looking at Ralph Lauren here), nor attempt to pander to aspirational people with disposable income and a hungry Instagram feed, nor do things like try to turn its commitment to denim into a fetish, but simply sells itself as excellent clothing designed and sold for sensible daily life, that will last for years, pair with other clothes easily, and just plain looks good. Bonus if they've got retail outlets that are comfortable, relatively quiet, and staffed by employees who really know the product line. There are some niche manufacturers that have presented such a model--most of my clothes comes from such companies, and they've lasted many years--but no one that I'm aware of has figured out how to scale it up to the level of a Patagonia. Maybe J Crew could do that.
D (St. Paul)
@Larrea yes love this comment. Can you please disclose the companies you are buying from? It seems like everything promoted is bought and paid for via pr and advertising.
terry brady (new jersey)
I wore those dungarees, circa 1952, in 1st grade rolled up exactly the same but mine were hand-me-downs from my older brother and obviously too long. Unfortunately, I looked shabby, and everyone knew that I was Phase II for them faded pants. I've always wondered where fashion bon vivant comes from and now I know, skateboarder and surfer and Long Island (presumably Garden City or Jones Beach). The Russian Navy T-Shirt and Grey herringbone tweed in farmer's almanac blue jeans looks like a mistake on a 50-year-old man rebranding or recutting J-Crew, I'd advance. But silly me as I was forever traumatized in 1st grade and anything I mutter is sour grapes and gibberish.
Demosthenes (NY)
@terry brady Wear whatever you want, and wear it proud!
SE (NorCal)
Dear J Crew, please make quality clothes made of cotton, silk and wool. We need a source for good quality classic clothing.
Hannah (Midwest)
100% agree with everyone who mentions that the problem with J. Crew is a lack of quality. The "preppy set" want quality, natural materials, and timeless style - no labels and nothing ostentatious. If you know, you know. Also, "Ralph Lauren, the granddaddy of them all?" Hardly. Lauren imitated J. Press and Brooks Brothers. [Although, I will digress to point out that Brooks Brothers has had its own quality issues over the past two decades.] A few good shops remain, but they are all independent.
American Immigrant Abroad (Southern Europe)
As a Yale grad, I can tell you that J Press and Brooks Brothers are lower quality and completely swag-less compared to Ralph Lauren. The kids on the sailing team wear Ralph Lauren at finals clubs. The medieval studies professors wear J Press.
Demosthenes (NY)
@Hannah Exactly, Hannah! Always dress to impress yourself.
Lk (NY)
J Press! A blast from the past and my grandfather’s go to. Nothing like the smell of sandalwood, suede elbow pads and his tobacco pipe.
JK (Boston, MA)
Customers expect premium quality when paying premium prices. Most of J. Crews garments are not worth it.
@JK That's just not true. Your idea of a "premium" price point is what exactly? and premium quality based against what? ALD? Because it's a range.
NoNameNeeded (New Yorker)
J. Crew made exquisite blouses and beautifully draped pants of the most sumptuous materials. I still have some pieces from their heyday that still look fantastic after years of wear. Even the NYC Fashion and PR crowd would mix in pieces from the store with more upscale pieces. The quality now is super sad. No more 2 or 3 ply cashmere - sweaters are pilling in the store. And the blouses are now polyester, boxy and don’t look good on anyone. I’d repurchase today many of the pieces from the heyday because beautifully made classics are always in style. J. Crew tried to grow by being everything to everyone and increase its profits by cutting back on quality. Not a winning strategy. With all the lamenting over fast fashion, the original strategy of J. Crew is probably a winning strategy once more. High quality and well fitted garments that aren’t priced like Brunello Cucinelli. Man I miss the old J. Crew.
Rebecca (Illinois)
@NoNameNeeded I came to the comments to say exactly this! I ordered a couple of things this fall, hoping the quality had ticked up a bit. Nope. Polyester, ill-fitting, junk.
Jack (Midwest)
I'll save my judgements on the clothing for the next time I'm in a mall - who knows when - but I'm not holding my breath. As the target audience for their comeback, I can't say I'm looking to take fashion advice from a 50 year old wearing rolled-cuff blue-jeans with white socks and black loafers...
Grace (Brooklyn)
@Jack The "rolled-cuff blue-jeans" are selvedge denim, which is often worn cuffed to show off the selvedge to those who would recognize the quality it implies.
JN (P)
@Jack how about you go to and checkout the new November Collection? Great lookbook photos and photography, video spots, etc. focusing on construction and materials and fabrics.
Deb (NYC)
@Jack I'm a 68 yr old woman who has bought J.Crew mens button down oxfords for decades, among other mens' and womens' items. My fave is the short sleeve white button down oxford, and I ALWAYS have one or two in my closet at all times. This summer's winner is the long sleeve classic madras patchwork which I throw on, roll up the sleeves, and go! Now that I think of it I don't think I'd take fashion advice from Mr. Jack-in-the-midwest! And last, rolled cuff, white socks and loafers is timeless IMHO. The mall? Please. Kinda snobby Jack, n'est-ce pas?
SteveRR (CA)
Morty Seinfeld: "Cheap fabric and dim lighting. That's how you move merchandise." Decades later it is sadly... still true Morty was too polite to mention the whole fashion sucker born every minute part.
Rani D. Mullen (Chevy Chase, MD)
The J Crew demise is no surprise and I really doubt that trendy leadership will revive the brand unless they start offering better quality. I have been a J Crew customer for well over a decade and think I might have to start shopping elsewhere. I have yet to find pants or coats in the wool winter collection that are actually 100% wool. It seems like polyster is in everything they now sell -- at a markup!
No name (earth)
What used to be office basics with some flash pieces mixed in on the side turned to weird and too young misplaced ideas of fashion, with drastic reductions in quality. I went from shopping often to never. Bring back quality. Bring back classics. Carry on with the fashion forward collections as a sideline. But remember that the vast majority of customers need clothes to wear on zoom meetings and out to dinner or occasionally to he office
Dianne Jackson (Richmond, VA)
When I discovered J Crew for my 13 year old son, about 15 years ago, it was amazing. He was tall and lanky and their clothes seemed made for him. Great classics, quality natural fabrics, and everything a perfect fit. The stuff lasted forever. The essential chinos you could order hemmed in custom lengths! My husband began buying his clothes there, too. Then it all slipped away. Essential chinos- gone. Everything began to shrink to fit anorexic 12 year olds. My now 6’2” son asked me to stop buying the boxer shorts because they made them just too short. Poor quality became the rule while prices went up. And why is absolutely everything stretchy? Now I don know where to shop for him, unless I want to spend $150 on a button-down.
JN (P)
@Dianne Jackson Got a Relaxed traditional-weight Oxford shirt from the newer collection for $15 last week, so not sure what you're referencing or complaining about re: pricing?
Liz Lemon (Chicago)
@Dianne Jackson ... He's 28 now? Maybe he could figure out where to shop for himself.
Dianne Jackson (Richmond, VA)
@Liz Lemon Thanks for the snarky remark, but there are still special occasions when I like to buy him clothes.
Momax4 (CH)
Have I ever heard of the Ludlow suit? Um, yeah. I've been buying Ludlow suit jackets and pants for my husband for years, thank you very much. Get back to your roots, J.Crew. Focus on quality materials, classic cuts, wardrobe basics, heirloom quality items.
Finny (Fullerton, CA)
The the materials changed and cheapened. Quality over trend. Forever. Perhaps that's why RL remains relevant.
Xavier (Tulsa, OK)
The decline of J.Crew isn't a complicated mystery. It coincides directly with the build quality of their apparel.
GJ (California)
@Xavier Bingo. I used to spent a lot of money at Jcrew ~15 years ago. Then, the materials began to get swapped out for lower quality — as if we wouldn't notice! Do they think we are oblivious? Or stupid? Unfortunately, this seems to be a terrible cycle for fashion retailers. Anthropologie and H&M are others that come to mind. (Yes, hard to believe, but ~15+ years ago H&M had high quality items, before it became the fast fashion monstrosity it is now.)
CDub (Chicago)
Couple of call outs... First, men's is a small part of the overall total JCrew business. Call it 25%. So it's maybe $300M - which, by the way, is 10x bigger than Noah or Supreme when Brendon worked there. What he's trying to do, at scale, is exponentially more difficult than taste-making for lower east side Gen-X and Y'ers. Second, the PR machine is in overdrive while the just launched Holiday collection (where the company will generate ~40% of its revenue) launched at 40% off. Add to the mix a real disconnect at retail (plus digital - the site is overwhelmingly busy and performance especially weak) and this seems like the company is overly pandering to the NY-centric considerati. Third, mens doesn't operate in a vacuum - the men's side has to align with the women's side and right now, it sure seems like they are rowing and targeting VERY different consumers. That lays at the feet of the CEO. Lastly, I think Brendon has tremendous taste and a wonderful eye - but he's not a designer in the classic sense. As a result, he's "futzing" (technical term) at the edges with proportion and fit and targeting less "wear to work" and more "outfitting the creative class". It's a very different aesthetic that may not work at scale. Which might be OK - JCrew might not work at scale any longer either. A smaller, better brand for a smaller, more targeted consumer is still a very largely profitable business strategy. Afterall, Supreme sold for $2B on revenue of $200m. IMHO.
CG (Detroit)
Their clothes are insanely small and their stores in the mall feel like country clubs. It's just not a vibe unless you go to Andover.
Charles (Los Angeles)
First thing I do in any clothing store is touch the fabric...if it is stiff, heavy, itchy etc, I'll pass as I know I'll never wear it even if it looks good. And they better fit me. I'm fairly average sized, and many companies either have tiny Mediums or huge Larges...J Crew is one of them. My wife buys from J Crew, and I'm assigned return duties. Everytime I go into a J Crew store, I hit the men's section. I have yet to buy anything in well over a decade.
Harding Dawson (Los Angeles)
Nobody compares to Ralph Lauren. He didn't just make Piping Rock meets High Plains Drifter. He channeled a dream world of old Hollywood (Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire,) and concocted a real universe of astonishing style, quality, substance and beauty. If you took anything he made 30 years ago and put it on, it would still look great. And Ralph (at 867 Madison) took care of his employees, generously, and had superb customer service and tailors. By contrast, the world of J. Crew, Supreme, and Todd Snyder is cheap, derivative, junky, trendy, tied to fads on Tik-Tok and Instagram, a disposable and quickly forgotten bad imitation of the great old Polo Ralph Lauren. I wish Mr. Babenzian well but he is basically "tweaking" the Fair Isle sweater just as Mr. Snyder is doing, just as Michael Bastian is doing at Polo. They all are trying to summon up the dying embers of the old well-dressed American male who is been missing in action since November 22, 1963.
Mike (Manhattan)
If Polo was so wonderful it wouldn’t need to put a logo on everything it sells.
Hannah (Midwest)
@Mike Precisely. "Money talks; wealth whispers."
JAC (New Orleans)
@Mike the good stuff from Polo doesn't have a (visible) logo.
Jasper Lamar Crabbe (Boston, MA)
As a one-time, long-time JCrew fan, I weep for the brand's future. Start producing clothes that fit more than 20 year old waifs or close up shop. There simply are not enough 28 sized waists and XS necks out there to sustain a business. Yeah, there are some slightly larger men out there who would still be customers if sizes kept pace. Look to Ben Sherman, Fat Face and Johnston & Murphy if you want to see how to market appropriately to a client base beyond the skinny jean set.
Danielle (USA)
@Jasper Lamar Crabbe And women as well! I have always loved J Crew, but my aging body does not fit into supermodel cuts, I would love to see them make some clothes for those of us who still love the look but aren't built like teenage boys anymore.
Deb (NYC)
@Danielle They do make larger women's sizes but the proportions are still youngish. I want longer tops that cover my butt and don't make me look silly. There have to be some compromises in fit, plus quality upgrades.
Jasper Lamar Crabbe (Boston, MA)
@Danielle you are so right!
PE (Seattle)
Carhartt is a better brand and product then J. Crew. Better fit. Less expensive. Better quality. And it's becoming cool -- not just your workwear brand. Babenzien take note.
Ishmael (At Sea)
@PE In what world do you look to Carhartt for mildly preppy clothes?
JN (P)
@PE Carhartt WIP is not less expensive
Teller (SF)
Unless he can get some traction on TikTok, sorry.
MarieM (NYC)
Yes! Bring back the old JCrew. I loved their color palette, gorgeous sweaters and classic coats in good material like wool, cotton, linen and silk.
Edward Fellowes (Los Angeles)
J Crew had great products in the era of the Ludlow Suit and quality was decent and pricing, affordable. The brand still produces pretty good staples, though quality is hit and miss and some of the newly introduced pieces under the new creative direction, are frankly, ridiculous and uninspiring.
blorx (hackneyed)
@Edward Fellowes and low quality! so many synthetic fabrics. yuck.
D (St. Paul)
@Edward Fellowes if you shopped at j crew in the late 80s-90s then you would know the quality of the ludlow suit is a joke compared to what was offered for business west then
Bridget (New York)
I know this article is about menswear, but as a long-time J Crew shopper, I feel the need to comment. I want clothes that last for years. I want them to be made out of natural fabrics - wool and cotton, plain and simple. This year, J Crew has delivered. Granted, the prices have gone up a lot. But so has the quality of the pieces. I bought a wool blazer that was actually made out of wool, and actually kept me warm. The cashmere sweaters are timeless. So are the button-down shirts. After about 5 years of "meh, I'll shop elsewhere", I am back at J Crew. Now part of that is that there aren't really any alternatives. But when I was in the Rockefeller Center store last week, I was surrounded by Europeans who were buying up everything in sight. That speaks volumes - Europeans focus on quality over quantity. So please don't fall for the trend-trap, J Crew. Stick with quality.
APA (Seattle, WA)
@Bridget Agreed! Shopping at J Crew since my college days in the 90s. Sitting in my office today in a J Crew cashmere sweater (probably purchased 4-5 years ago) and J Crew wide-legged cotton pants. I frequently purchase men's clothing for family and the men in my family are extremely particular about quality. Yes, J Crew quality has fluctuated over the past few years on what you may find seasonally, but it has always maintained quality (and the right prices) for its classics.
@Bridget Having lived in Europe for 10 years I can say the average European (i.e NOT the ones shopping in NYC who can travel here despite the weak euro and high air fares) do not focus on quality. They focus on cheap. Europe is the birthplace of fast fashion (H&M, Zara, Primark, Mango, Top Shop etc) and that is where the majority still shop today. Go to luxury shops in Paris - the majority of their customers are NOT European.
Rebecca (Illinois)
@Bridget OH! I came to the comments to lament quality, but you found a good piece this year?! Which blazer was it? I desperately miss the wool blazers of old (the Schoolboy in particular)
Jonathan Cohen (Los Altos)
Interesting take. Thoughts: 1) I don't think NOAH is a streetwear brand nor is Brendon purely a streetwear designer. Certainly, it and he have leaned into some of the codes, but they have been intermixed with others - trad from an array of decades - into something quite different: a pastiche of influences. He's not JW Anderson, Craig Green, Demna, Virgil trying go fully postmodern deconstruction. And perhaps the aesthetic is not immediately identifiable - like Lemaire or Hedi - I think that's ok. He has said he wasn't a fashion designer. He does, in my opinion, have terrific personal taste that's identifiable and has been widely copied. 2) As a mass business with substantial debt, J.Crew is not yet in a position to bet the farm on any significant outré collections. Word is, the building still smarts from losses incurred during the Jenna era, who pushed to break the codes, but couldn't sell to the masses. (I wish she had been given a chance to recalibrate, but alas...) 3) It's an interesting time in menswear, because competing brands appear to be dancing on a very small dancefloor, all re-envisioning Ralph and Crew via 90s-00s teens and twentysomethings. There was a time when there were significant differences in such brands; now, they've gotten better, but are similar. 4) It's a different era, and there will likely be no megabrands or trends. Why? Because younger consumers want exclusivity, to feel different and hate seeing others wear the same stuff - in & out of office.
is this article just menswear...? bring back emily cinader
FivebyFive (DC)
It's about the quality. I'm sick and tired of made in China sweaters that pill after a single wearing. And don't tell me this is typical. I have 20 year old sweaters that haven't pilled as much as new ones I've bought this year.
@FivebyFive its the yarn fiber length and finish. it hast nothing to do with where the garment is produced.. your choice depending on your budget
blorx (hackneyed)
@Mary M Five's point is that they USED to make things that lasted. not so much anymore.
Hoping For Sanity (In An Overpopulated World)
@Mary M It has everything to do with where it's made. It's NOT just the fiber length and finish. It's a country that cheats, fakes and skims wherever possible. The quality of yarn can be further compromised even further by the unethical practices of Chinese manufacturing.
PE (Seattle)
I see Babenzien is wearing Levis 501s. Maybe he should be wearing J Crew jeans or pants in these photog shoots? And if he can't find J Crew jeans he likes, maybe he should design J Crew shrink to fit jeans to compete with Levis. Could be cool.
David Law (Los Angeles)
Hope he can do it. One tip from a former customer: please try and diversify the manufacturing sources. Seeing all these starchy, tweedy, preppy clothes manufactured only in China turned me off. Other countries have good labor too, and can use the money.
No matter what the design, there has to be a return to quality. This article is all about style. I can find many brands I like the looks of, but that golden balance of quality and price point is missing. I have 2 cashmere sweaters from about 16 years ago that still look amazing. A wool dress that is so well cut that even though it's a bit out of style, it gets a lot of compliments, because of the execution and the quality of the wool fabric. Go back to your roots JCrew and we, the shoppers, will back.
Al (Oregon)
@VD agreed. It's pretty easy to find fast fashion clothing that looks appealing in the online catalog. But do I really want to pay $90 for something constructed with $6 worth of synthetic materials by Vietnamese factory workers who are paid $1.50 an hour.
Some Guy (Some Place)
I had many shirts from J.Crew that I've had for about a decade that I'm now letting go of only because they don't fit anymore and likely never will. What all of these items have in common is that they're in timeless styles and fits that wouldn't look out of place 60 years ago or 60 years from today. Does anyone else remember the classic, navy gingham shirts? Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Quality has also declined noticeably, the decade-old "secret wash" shirts are of a higher quality and in noticeably better shape than barely worn ones from more recent seasons. Their market used to include professionals even in, not so much.
blorx (hackneyed)
@Some Guy absolutely. i can tell the few comments on this article come from us diehards. there was a time when Crew was 75%+ of my wardrobe. not anymore. and all the things i still wear are from the days of natural fibers, full-length shirts (hehe) and quality construction.
Meena (California)
I used to shop JCrew. Then the good stuff disappeared. Everything looked weird for folks who want quality, comfort and unassuming good clothes that fit well. Needless to say I’m swinging wildly between JJill…. ghastly but comfy, Prana…. they live to destroy perfect pants once created and a myriad other places that make me really unhappy. Maybe the key to success is to swallow pride and stop aiming at the younger folks who really cannot afford the rather high priced fare. Bring back the old, wonderful, boring, stuff. I’ll bite once again.
Lisa (Bay Area)
@Meena Alex Mill is pretty much like J Crew used to be both in quality and style. Here's hoping J Crew can get it together because I still have their items from thirty years ago that have held up and not gone out of style.
Rob (Nashville)
I'm not sure I've ever heard "affordable" and "J. Crew" in the same sentence before. Maybe compared to Bergdorf or truly high-end labels like Zegna or Burberry. I am a single gay man with plenty of disposable income, and while some of my favorite wardrobe pieces have come from the store, I can't remember the last time I paid full price for something at J. Crew. It's just not worth it. If J. Crew wants to design and price clothes for the New York market, go right ahead. But then don't be surprised when you start closing stores in malls in the other 99% of America because nobody's buying what you're selling. See also: Brooks Brothers
Harry S (NY)
@Rob I do like the direction Michael Bastian has taken for Brooks Brothers. Not sure about their prices though.
lance (texas)
“I know what you're going through. I too once fell under the spell of opium. It was 1979. I was travelling the Yangtze in search of a Mongolian horsehair vest. I had got to the market after sundown. All of the clothing traders had gone, but a different sort of trader still lurked about. ‘Just a taste,’ he said. That was all it took.” - J. Peterman
Some Guy (Some Place)
@lance Do not buy anything from J.Peterman, they have some truly awful customer service and you might have to file a chargeback to get an actual refund.
Bossystarr (Nyc)
@lance haha. good one.
L (DC)
@lance Thanks for this! Oh how I miss those days flipping through at J Peterman and J crew catalogues and watching Sienfield .. Simpler time!
Chris P (Brooklyn, NY)
The Willard Bond shorts sound like a great idea. I don't see them on the J Crew site.
CDub (Chicago)
@Chris P They got marked down to 70% off because no one bought them. It's tough selling a niche, lower east side aesthetic outside of, you know, the lower east side.
Simone (Colorado)
J.Crew once represented class, elegance, preppy style, and quality. They sacrificed their original ethos to chase trends and lost their focus. The best way to save J.Crew is to return to its roots, up the quality of its classics, and offer one or two trend pieces each season. Embrace the demographic that made them successful--we still need quality clothes.
Momax4 (CH)
@Simone YES! I've had a closet full of J.Crew staples for years, purchasing (and re-purchasing) new classic pieces each time my body changed from pre-to-post pregnancy, or an office environment needed a different look. They were one of the first companies to provide long length pants for people taller than 5'8", and it was a revelation. For several years now, I've struggled to find *anything*. I keep hoping that they'll get back to doing what they do best, take a look at the website and see puffy-sleeved, cropped shirts with exposed gold zippers. "Embrace the demographic that made them successful--we still need quality clothes." 100% yes.
Matthew (NJ)
@Simone Indeed. But I was thrilled to see them back and ordered the simple polo and the simple cotton sweater (TRY finding a simple cotton sweater) and was delighted to see the quality (weight of fabric), colors, and prices. Snapped up more right away.
L (DC)
@Simone Agree!! and please don't copy the classic roll-neck sweater with thin cotton material. It just doesn't stand. I really was disappointed to see the colorway this season with emerald green that looks so cheaply made- even on their catalogue models!
Nick (NYC)
For people who write about fashion for a living (just another kind of "hypebeast" if you ask me), there's Supreme. For normal people who just want something classic, well-made, and not too expensive for their wardrobe, there's J. Crew.
Garrett (Redmond)
Preppy used to have an aspirational quality to it. Those days are probably numbered by long-term trends like reduced purchasing power, fewer formal occasions that call for this type of dress, and democratized social influence. Doesn’t feel like many look up to the country club set for their aesthetic cues anymore. It appears like there is more resentment on both sides of the aisle towards that cohort. Seems like the designer is trying to catch a falling knife.
Csty (East Coast)
I recently bought a bunch of new stuff from J Crew. The uptick in quality is extremely noticeable, and the proportions, colors, and materials all feel like "old" J Crew. Babenzien is doing a great job so far. I'm very excited for this turnaround.
Morgan (Miami)
@Csty I could not agree more. As a lawyer who no longer needs to dress formally, and having always patronized j crew in the past, with my more recent casualwear purchases I am seeing an overall improvement in quality, style and cuts, as you note. Keep it up BB.
Doug (Toronto)
@Csty I agree. I bought the new Barn Jacket. 100% wool with a nice relaxed cut as well.
Block Doubt (New York)
I've only read the first couple paragraphs of the article so far but felt compelled to comment, because I've already bought a few items from J Crew this year, before I even knew about this change up in design leadership. Ill say that the prices are pretty good for the quality and the design aesthetic cuts somewhere between Ralph Lauren classic and LL Bean without some of the more hokey elements. It feels classic and current with some of the elements of LL Bean and RL, but has a few edgier details that are more youthful and fun. Of course it lacks the outdoor authenticity of LL Bean, but that's ok. Ill be LL Bean for that type of wear which I couldnt get from a Ralph Lauren anyway.
Cynthia (Chicago)
Last time I looked, J. Crew featured cheap fabrics, plastic buttons, loose threads, bulging zipper plackets and sweaters with sewn-in seams. So basically, Shein quality at Nordstrom prices.
Rupert (Alabama)
@Cynthia : Are you sure you weren't at a J.Crew Outlet?
@Cynthia And a sherpa coat for almost $300. That much money for polyester. No thanks.
av35 (Charlotte, NC)
I think there is a potentially enormous market opportunity here. With the rise of fast fashion and the race to the bottom in terms of clothing quality, I sense there is a yearning and nostalgia for the quality clothes and styles of yesteryear. Vintage is in vogue again. Fashion works in cycles. I think men are fed up with the skinny pants and tight suit jackets with narrow lapels of fast fashion, but also the boxy cheap quality suits of department stores offering brands like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren (their mass produced brands). Therein lies the opportunity - comfortable pants with pleats, roomy but not baggy jackets with vintage patterns and textures, quality leather shoes, natural fibers like cotton, wool, linen, etc. What's old becomes new again. Since most all menswear retailers have joined the fast fashion race to the bottom ("performance 4-way stretch fabric" is really just a marketing gimmick for cheap polyester plastic). I find it is really difficult to find quality at a mid-tier price point. J. Crew come the close in my opinion but they have the potential to be so much better.
Matt (Oregon)
I am your paying demographic. I am your long time customer. Don't try to sell me "tweaked" streetwear or stylized stalwarts. Make great clothes that your core will buy and wear. It's not hard. J.Crew is what it is, and could be great again. Supreme is Supreme. Stop pretending to be the other brand and be your brand. Best to Brenden.
Bill (NYC)
Streetwear ISN’T mainstream?
Cat (New York)
@Bill Streetwear is ephemeral. The mainstream picks up on it quickly.
Rashawn (Atlanta, GA)
No. Today's consumers want value, quality, and authenticity - with style being an output of that those values. J. Crew offers none of the aforementioned.
Deborah (California)
No mention here that J. Crew was a major brand for women. I still have several long-lasting J. Crew items, including a cotton sweater. Is J.Crew being remade today as a brand solely for men?
Tasha (Oregon)
@Deborah I was wondering the same thing. I bought many classic pieces for my business casual wardrobe once upon a time - nice black pants with matching jackets, sweater sets - all well-made and lasted forever, and at not-insane prices. Do they even carry women's clothing anymore??
EP (Redding, CA)
@Deborah The fact that Jenna Lyons wasn't mentioned in this piece is shocking to me. She was the driving creative and branding force at J. Crew for years. Perhaps she was just involved in the women's side of things, but still.
lisa (minnesota)
@EP yes, they mentioned the jenna years....
d (Gil)
What I'd like to see would be predominantly classic styles, which you can keep in your closet for at least a decade (trend-wise) and infinity (quality-wise). I want natural fibers, linen, cotton, wools, and silk. Heirloom-quality. With the advent of fast-fashion, and people becoming more conscious of the environment (lack of biodegradability of polyester and ultra-trendy items), I think that this would make for an excellent marketing campaign.
Too Old Now (Boston)
Agreed. I love a white shirt or t-shirt with a quality timeless navy blue blazer, jeans, and higher end shoes. (I’m female)
gió (Italian abroad)
@d I absolutely agree with you.
Seattle (Seattle)
The PR blitz has been so overwhelming but it’s not at all represented in the store experience. What a disconnect and what a waste. My store is U Village in Seattle and everything seems off. I wanted a new loafer and the heel comes up just too much, causing rubbing and blisters. No thanks. The merchandise (for women) largely still feels “Jenna” but a little bloodless. They thought Jenna was too much and what they are left with is “not enough.” New womens designer seems more focused on burnishing her own IG account and follower count than actually giving us clothes we need and want. Bummer. Additionally, the J Crew story always seems to be told via merchandising success/failure but I would love to see it deeply reported based on financials over time. Private equity, store expansion, inventory costs, Madewell investments. Would really love to see how much of the company’s rise and fall over the years was attributable to merch vs problematic financing or other below the line decision making.
Too Old Now (Boston)
This article was like gibberish. The writer is so delighted with his own fashion knowledge that he or she-whoever-just keeps slamming away at comparisons. What the heck are you attempting to say? And the yackity yak about Supreme? It has 14 locations. Period. No one cares about Supreme except those that can access it. Or heard of it. Fashion people live in a fashion bubble. The rest of us are living reality, where off the rack Ralph Lauren is still a go-to. All I understand is this new dude is going to tweak some stuff-like the Fair Isle sweater colors. Um, Boden already did that. P.S. I am laying around with COVID which is why I have so much time to consider and comment on this article-lol
Matt (Ohio)
@Too Old Now : It tickles me that you felt the article was elitist gibberish... all the while the only name I recognized in YOUR post was Ralph Lauren LOL.
Josh (Texas)
@Too Old Now This article isn't for you. That's okay.
JN (P)
@Too Old Now Every time J crew/Brendon gets mentioned, do we need the drawn out Supreme and Ralph history lesson? and no mention of Noah? "No one cares about Supreme except those that can access it." lol that also is far from the truth
Curend (South Carolina)
J.Crew, and other similarly situated retailers, need to find a way to create designs that imitate the upper echelons, but with a quality and price point that makes them attainable for the upper-middle class (a dwindling pop.). Quince does this pretty well. The issue is that with fast fashion, anyone can find a knockoff version of a designer style for pennies to wear once and discard (Shein, Forever 21, Amazon, etc.) and that is what the lower-middle and middle class have had to gravitated towards. If one looks at the boom with the pre-loved goods market (The RealReal, Fashionphile, etc.), they'll notice that just like the nation, you are either in the top or you are not; there's been a hollowing out of the middle-tier (which is why department stores are performing so poorly). Sadly, it's trickle down influencing: the brand needs to be affordable enough for some, but not accessible enough for all, in a manner that evokes the labels only made for few.
Annie (Hartford CT)
@Curend Well said. I wish him well, but it's a tough job. Many Americans have grown addicted to fast fashion, and most of us don't have much reason to dress up these days. It's also incredibly difficult to design for a customer in NYC vs Dallas vs Dubuque, all of whom have different needs and desires from their clothing. With that said, aside from the corduroy suit (I love it; very Jarvis Cocker) and wide-legged pants, there's not enough here that feels au courant. You'd think that hypebeasts would love a J.Crew x Fear of God capsule collection, or Our Legacy for J.Crew—something buzz-y that gives people a reason to shop there. And then there is the quality factor. Last month, I went to a J Crew store and thought the prices were too high, given the quality of the clothing and accessories. $178 for plastic-soled shoes? Nah. At a certain point, most shoppers will either save another $100 and buy a better-made pair of shoes, or they'll spend $100 less and get similar plastic-soled shoes via fast fashion. But as you said, there's not much room for middle-of-the-road budgets and tastes.
@Annie Insightful comments, and I agree. And you win for the Jarvis Cocker namedrop. There's a theme of "Common People" running through the fashion dilemma these days.
Mary (NC)
@Annie demographics for fast fashion and J Crew are different. Fast fashion is 18-24 year old's (Gen Z and not affluent) while, J Crew target customers are mostly 24-35, median age 32 with a post graduate degree and affluent.
javamaster (washington dc)
Never heard of Supreme. Didn't need Supreme to locate hoodies and clothing for me either. J. Crew did the job, but I thought the workmanship for some shirts and other stuff was too poor for the asking price. I never pay retail anymore and I don't really care where I buy my clothes these days,
Michael (Bath)
I just wish I could squeeze my pretty average male frame into any of J. Crew's current clothing. Maybe expand the sizing a little bit? I love the brand but it's like trying to fit into baby clothes. Pants are getting so slim they almost exist in a parallel dimension. Loosen things up a little, and I'll come back.
Howard G (New York)
@Michael Slim Fit = "Not 4 You" (or me - as the case may be) ...
Jerseytime (Montclair, NJ)
@Michael I have the same problem with The Gap. Shirts that fit skin tight look ridiculous, and are uncomfortable. Good News: I hear that the whole skin tight thing is going the way of the dinosaurs.....
javamaster (washington dc)
@Michael I have to agree. The sizing and fit can be just too far off to fit my own "normal" average, semi- athletic frame.
See also