Internet Defenders: Let’s Give a Little Love to J.Crew

The brand that’s been hugging us in crewneck sweaters for years could use a bit of a hug

06.25.15

While avocado toast and rosé wine are competing for Instagram’s Most Famous, J.Crew remains in the throes of a less-than-favorable transition.

Sales are still down, 175 layoffs were reported, and Tom Mora, former head of women’s design, is being replaced. A flurry of Internet gossip followed — some resurfaced, some current, none worth linking because we’ve all been to high school.

It’s true that you cannot argue with numbers. Data trumps speculation; money talks; profit is — or at least has previously been — tangible success. And when it comes to J.Crew’s current state of financials, too much fashion is the cause for blame. Round these parts, however, that makes zero sense. J.Crew has helped established this industry as a democratic place: Don’t live in New York? Paris? Milan? So what? You can — and will be — a part of this, too! 

Like the bloggers who challenged front row politics, Jenna Lyons trail-blazed a path that said:

Just because it’s not designer doesn’t mean it isn’t cool.

Just because it’s not fancy doesn’t mean it’s not black tie.

Just because a brand is known for its khakis and sensible blazers doesn’t mean its customer can’t be curious about fashion.

For someone like me — a fan of the basics, wary of trends, unwilling to spend on a plain white tee but happy to invest in something I know I’ll wear for a long time, J.Crew became a dependable destination to expand horizons without discomfort while same discovering something new.

Had J.Crew never made a pair of high waist, cropped and flared white jeans, I never would have bought them, loved them and declared them a fixture of my summer wardrobe. They cost me $150, so were they cheap? No. But they also weren’t made cheaply — which is important. And in comparison to the designer iterations that still linger on shelves in the upper echelons of retail, they’re a steal. Not a knockoff, not unethical, not not one meal-swap of instant noodles, but worth it, because they let me participate.

Sophie Milrom once wrote for this site that if Kanye West is an esoteric, complex rapper, then Drake, who has arguably seen more commercial success, is the relatable, low common denominator of the same vertical. In that way, J.Crew is not unlike Drake. It provides an entry point for all of us. It makes it consumable.

Accessible.

Digestible.

Achievable.

I understand the panic that comes with a last minute event that calls for a simple dress, without neon feathers, that was made with integrity, that won’t cost dignity, or dinner, if not a month’s rent.

And I understand the very real frustration that erupts when your sartorial go-to fails you.

But I also understand fashion. Or at least I think I do. And I know that in order to keep the playing fields even, to keep the sweet spot that bridges the fast fashion oligarchs and high fashion pretension, we need J.Crew. So give Drexler –and Lyons — a break, would you? Buy a damn sequin.

jenna-cuff

Get more Fashion ?
  • Allie Fasanella
  • kline, mara r.

    yas amelia

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahaah this giffff

  • teawithonesugar

    I passed their London store this week in Regent St and they were giving out ice lollies

    • Amelia Diamond

      well now that is NICE

    • Aydan

      walking into that store was like being home in the states <3

  • Catbird

    Hear, hear!!

  • I’m out ouf the loop on this one and I refuse to imagine the scenario.. I buy J. Crew online from Panama for myself, my kids and my husband. I wish I could be self deprecating but to our closets this is serious and I can not make fun of anything in risk of having a serious identity crisis.

  • AlexaJuno

    Never having been a J.Crew shopper, I’m curious, is it possible that the fashion forward influence of Jenna Lyons has caused the brand to up its price point and potentially alienate its customers? Her influence is what drew me to the brand recently, but has it possibly caused a rift for its less affluent shoppers who depend upon not only its sartorial accessibility but also financial convenience?

    • Amelia Diamond

      I think that’s a huge part of the argument, yes.

    • I don’t know if it’s simply that the prices have alienated some people. I think people really care about the value of their dollar and are willing to pay more for quality and less willing to spend on things that don’t hold up. There are just so many more options now when it comes to well-made, well-designed clothing.

      Also, I think J. Crew may have lumped itself into those “aspirational” brands that customers can simply see right through these days. I think people would rather have the high and the low, and less of the middle.

  • Kelly O

    So the Gap is struggling for not having enough fashion, and J.Crew has too much fashion? Preach Lady.

    • Amelia Diamond

      If you’re commenting this it’s too late 🙁

      • Kelly O

        Real talk.

  • L.A. Lady

    The problem really is “too much fashion.” Jenna’s task was to give J.Crew a facelift but she kept going, leaving behind some serious brand equity and the roots that made J.Crew so successful. This is the result: too much fashion, too many on-trend pieces priced similarly to how their solid basics once were. Their decline in quality further diminishes what was once a brand known for said quality. I am in 100% agreement that we NEED this brand in fashion. We need accessible, digestible (yikes…) and achievable fashion, but I’m not sure it can do those things in its current state.

    I was a J.Crew customer “then” and I’m a J.Crew customer now, but for totally different reasons. Back then, it was the foundation of my wardrobe. I still have my first work-appropriate blazer and wear it constantly. Now, I grab stuff from their heavily-discounted clearance section when I finally feel like it’s priced according to its quality and value as an on-trend piece.

    The J.Crew from way back when doesn’t exist, but I hope someday it returns.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Sounds like in general customers believe quality’s gotta go back up and prices need to drop, and I bet this is something the brand is hearing loud and clear. They really do listen to their customer so I wouldn’t be surprised to see many changes underway. (Or..seems like changes are happening already.) Remember when I believe it was Jenni Avins at The Cut who wrote an “Open Letter” to Jenna Lyons asking her to bring back the classic scoop back 1 piece suit.. and she did! I thought that was great, and so smart, and so telling of Jcrew as a brand, but also of Jcrew as a huge team of real PEOPLE behind it, faces you know as opposed to “the machine,” if that makes sense.

  • Love this! I wrote an article recently explaining the recent struggles and changes at J. Crew (here) but I still love the brand and hope they can bounce back. Jenna Lyons made the laid-back chic, high-low mixing thing a thing, and there’s no place better to purchase elevated basics and bright colors than the Crew

    • Katherine Sargeant

      Loved your article–so well put! I also have been turning more to Madewell lately also, I like to call it the ‘Crew’s younger, trendier cousin

  • Lua Jane

    Closest JCrew store to me would be the one in Paris, which isn’t close at all, so I don’t get to shop there much. Yet I understand what you are trying to say. I check out their site often for inspiration, ever since their spring 2013 collection, which has been a great impulse for me to incorporate colorful patterned pants, and pumps into my normaly boring wardrobe. JCrew with Jenna Lyons in it is fashion. Not as precious and often unattainable as designer stuff, and definitely not simply fast fashion like Zara or H&M. It produces and advertises the style and look 30 something girl who likes classics, like my self would like, with twists that are bold and cool. Like colorful pumps, and gorgeous flats. Plus, brand has entire section dedicated to cashmere only!

    • Amelia Diamond

      the cashmere is good, man

      • Lua Jane

        That’s another reason to suppprot JCrew!

  • Sujie Kim

    I just really miss the j.crew of like 5 years ago. There were the cool fashion forward pieces BUT I could still get a jackie cardigan, a simple summer sundress under $75 and ribbon flip flops. If there was a better balance of their classic stuff and the cool new stuff, I could love it again… I think.

    • Amelia Diamond

      (those ribbon flip flops you mentioned just took me backkk)

  • parkzark

    Let’s not forget they run some pretty awesome sales online too. 60% off of sale yesterday, CMONNN!! #salebraggin

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    • jona deonty

      In PAINnS ? ,۞ANnxiety plb? ۞, have SLeeP issues ? we got good ۞PILLLS۞ n good۞B.U.D۞POT ۞ n the ۞PurRple/leann۞ . (80Ƽ) 4бᏎ-ᏮΟ86۰] fast and reliable. 5years of shipping experience. GUARANTEED .〔805﴿ 464–ᏮО8б. only the serious. fgfg

  • aezzea

    I depend on jcrew for affordable, solid basics and the porn in the back of their catalogs. I don’t see how you can’t love it?

    • Amelia Diamond

      Catalog porn FOR SURE

  • mollie blackwood

    Like you Amelia, I’m weary of trends but took my cues from and trusted J.Crew. BUT now I have mixed feelings! I kind of stopped shopping there in the last year because I experienced the fall in quality and rise in price. My $85 chambray shirt developed a hole only after a handful of wears (and I NEVER machine dry). In a pinch I bought a $25 one from Old Navy… over a year later, no holes! Similar things happened to other shirts (their pants don’t fit me) so I just stopped going into their stores. I still look to their catalogs as a source of styling inspiration (which I personally feel they do a good job of mixing classics with a little more trend). I would never say they have “too much fashion” though, that’s silliness. Even if you buy basics you don’t want to buy them from a boring ass store.

    • I have had several similar experiences!

    • Amelia Diamond

      Well that is truly frustrating. Also, this is a great point: Even if you buy basics you don’t want to buy them from a boring ass store.

  • Autumn

    I’m surprised their sales aren’t up due to how much I spent there.
    J Crew is my bff and Jenna Lyons is my spirit animal.
    JC 4 LYFE!

    • Autumn

      This is my happy dance.

    • Autumn

      Me when a new shopping guide appears in the mail:

    • Autumn

      Me when I get a new shopping guide in the mail:

  • Autumn

    Jcrew makes me run with joy

  • who doesn’t actually love J. Crew though? The endless shirts are just the best piece of clothing I own. <3

    • Amelia Diamond

      gif… <3

  • Jayne Garofalo

    The awk moment when I am reading this and then realizing I am dressed in head to toe j.crew. I guess it’s just turned into a lifestyle…

  • Katherine Sargeant

    Religion: J.Crew

  • I have noticed that quality has gone down substantially in the last 10 years or so. It’s not just a J. Crew problem, but if quality is going to go down, then prices should too. For the amount of money I used to spend at J. Crew, I can buy something at, say, Everlane, and expect it to last a lot longer. I also feel better about where my money is going.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Just a note on Everlane: it’s so good. I stock up on their white tees.

      • mollie blackwood

        I got the best gray sweatshirt from them. They’re doing it right.

  • I’m a big fan of the brand. Thanks for sharing the love.
    http://thefervour.com

  • rashaminarayan

    fhfhfhf

  • Meredith Whitfield

    When people ask me what my personal style is, I say “the fall 2007 J.Crew catalogue,” pages of which hung in my high school locker. #dacrew

  • jona deonty

    In PAINnS ? ,۞ANnxiety plb? ۞, have SLeeP issues ? we got good ۞PILLLS۞ n good۞B.U.D۞POT ۞ n the ۞PurRple/leann۞ . (80Ƽ) 4бᏎ-ᏮΟ86۰] fast and reliable. 5years of shipping experience. GUARANTEED .〔805﴿ 464–ᏮО8б. only the serious. fgfg

  • lindamruiz43

    73

  • lindamruiz43

    80

  • Ana

    like me coming …. < Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far thss best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6879 this – 8 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $212 per hour. I work through this link………

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  • Olga Dubinko

    I didn’t even know there was such a problem at j crew! I love them! I order j crew online and I live in Belarus. I can’t imagine this brand not being there!

    My International Giveaway! http://againstandforward.blogspot.com

  • You don’t have to ask me twice to buy a damn sequin, sequin is practically my middle name. I’ve been lusting over a few of their pieces for fall, namely THIS!

  • Viola M

    J Crew mens pants fit better in the waist and cuff.

  • “We’ve all been to high school.”

    Enough said. Love you. Mean it.

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.com

  • xtyb

    I am sorry I missed the original posting. This is CRUCIAL. I’m going to use my $25 gift card from my jcrew credit card right now. Having been living in the boonies for several years, JCrew was my lifeline. Seriously there was no place in my town to buy a pair of pants and I’m one of those people that JCrew fits every time. And in my secret fashionista circle, nobody ever recgonized the jcrew collection pieces (they’re more shopbop). I LOVE JCREW and JENNA. I was THRILLED to see this photo the other day on thecut because I have these pants too and I love them.
    Yes crew let’s band together for our JCREW.

    • xtyb

      here are our pants

  • Batia

    The Chino pants of 2005 and the Bella jacket of 2007 were classics tastefully made with quality and integrity but the Regent jacket of 2014 is a fashion staple jacket for the current modernism trend you mostly see on Scandinavian looking features as tall as Lyons! This is the discrepancy!

    Prices a little more expensive too! The narrative? It’s clear!–Fashion and European!
    The quality? They talk about the sourcing/dyeing and even assembling of (some) garments to Italy. Some were processed meticulously again and again by some well known mills. But the knits? China + Cambodia + Vietnam etc. Did they participate with any ill inhumane manufacturers of knits and sweaters? Hopefully not. (So far JCREW hasn’t told any stories yet about this one).

    As far as sequins? Where else can we place them? College kids crave ultimate fashion forward pieces to partner with their JCREW staples while young professionals’ talking point is: Basic with a pop of color. The 40s and beyond?–I think (based on my experience) are just trend followers “JCREW is so amazing with everything!”

    JCREW is like a Mom tending to her kids! From the hormonal middle school to the (i know it all) graduating college student!

    They need to really define their vision and goal! Is it gonna be like CHANGE like Obama? Is it gonna be Americana? It is gonna be like Zara– you’re gateway to affordable (digestible) achievable fashion.
    Or are they gonna be the Jenna Lyons store.

    Are they going to attempt and make a huge effort to cultivate a new JCREW community or are they gonna save their amazing customers and send them a loyalist $25 gift card to spend on a really nice “vivid jade” cashmere sweater (newest color)? Or Both!

    Here’s teddy bear and lots of hugs JCREW! You worry them Mom’s!

  • Batia

    The Chino pants of 2005 and the Bella jackets of 2007 were classics tastefully made with quality and integrity, but the Regent jacket of 2014 is a fashion staple jacket for the current modernism trend you mostly see on Scandinavian looking features as tall as Lyons! (sans really good quality!) and more expensive too! This is the discrepancy!

    The narrative? It’s clear!–Fashion and European!
    The quality? They talk about the sourcing/dyeing and even assembling of (some) garments in Italy. Some were also processed meticulously again and again by some well known mills.
    But the knits? China + Cambodia + Vietnam etc. Did they participate with any ill inhumane manufacturers of knits and sweaters? Hopefully not. (So far JCREW hasn’t told any stories yet about this one).

    As far as sequins? Where else can we place them? College kids crave ultimate fashion forward pieces they can partner with their JCREW staples, while young professionals’ talking point is: Basic with a pop of color. The 40s and beyond?–I think (based on my experience) are just trend followers. Mantra: “JCREW is always amazing with everything!”

    JCREW is like a Mom tending to her kids! From the hormonal middle school to the (i know it all) graduating college student! That’s a huge undertaking—And she gotta make lots of money too!

    What JCREW needs to do is to look at all their catalogs or (style guides) and get an intuitive brand analysis!
    (Never mind the money they made
    for each collection!–for 10 minutes!)

    They need to really define their vision and goal! Is it gonna be like CHANGE like Obama? Is it gonna be Americana? It is gonna be like Zara– you’re gateway to affordable (digestible) achievable fashion.
    Or are they gonna be the Jenna Lyons store.

    Are they going to attempt and make a huge effort to cultivate a new JCREW community or are they gonna save their amazing customers and send them a loyalist $25 gift card to spend on a really nice “vivid jade” cashmere sweater (newest color!), or BOTH?
    Or… JCREW store, JCREW Collection Store and Jenna Lyons for JCREW (LOL)

    Here’s teddy bear and lots of hugs JCREW! You worry them Moms!

  • Lilly Heinz

    I depend on jcrew for affordable, solid basics.I’m a big fan of the brand.Thanks for sharing the love.
    http://www.iamj.es

  • Heather McGuire

    I had a J. Crew’s crewneck sweater a long time ago. But I have never been a fan of crewnecks and I only bought that because I wanted to experiment with my outfit. I had no idea that the company was facing such hard times. I hope they are able to grow with the growing fashion trends are able to pull their company back into business.
    http://www.iamj.es/

  • Of course the big problem is the quality issue. If I am still getting the made in China stuff then I am not paying J Crew prices. J Crew is as high design as it gets for me!

  • charlweb1

    I have found great deals in the Jcrew sale section. I found a pair of leather sandals on sale for 39 dollars; they were originally 120 dollars.

  • Christina Marie

    It simply went too far in the “gender confused” look. Ugly, overdressed, greasy haired models…. um, No.