Wednesday, July 29, 2009

J.Crew Jewelry & Accessories {here to stay!}

"Thanks!" to RatsOnParade (in this post) who let us know about an an interesting article over at the Wall Street Journal (click here) that mentions J.Crew.

Retailers Highlight Accessories; With New Wardrobes a Tough Sell, Chains Try Belts, Bangles and Bags
By Elizabeth Holmes

July 24th, 2009

Clothing retailers are expanding their collections of belts, bangles and bags in hopes these high-margin accessories will boost slumping sales.

Casual wear retailer J.Crew Group Inc. opened its first accessories boutique last month in New York and soon will release its third accessories catalog. Accessories accounted for about $165 million, or 12% of its sales last year, almost double the amount in 2004.

Gap Inc. launched the first accessories-only branch of Banana Republic, called Edition, in May. And Henri Bendel, part of the Limited Brands Inc. portfolio, is expanding its offerings this summer with six more stand-alone accessories stores.

Retailers said jewelry, belts and scarves remain impulse-purchases that don't require a lot of budgeting, unlike a new wardrobe. "It's a little bit of a candy moment," says Jenna Lyons, J.Crew's creative director. "You don't have to try it on. You can just take it to the cash register."

Jewelry and bags can yield as much as double the 40% profit margins of apparel, though both vary greatly. The goods take up less space and have more of a timeless appeal, which helps retailers avoid the types of costly markdowns that have hurt results this year. Ed Bucciarelli, chief executive of Limited's Henri Bendel unit, describes the category as "season-less...which obviously speaks to the profit."

And sales are still growing. Women's accessory sales by units for the three months ended April 30 were up 2% from a year earlier, according to market-research firm NPD Group. Women's jewelry-item sales were up 5%, and men's and women's watches and sunglasses were up 11% and 5%, respectively. By contrast, women's apparel sales in units were down about 5.6%.

There are signs shoppers are willing to spend. More than a third of respondents in a Shopping Habits Survey conducted by Shop It To Me, an online personal shopping service, said they were "still splurging" on shoes, and nearly a quarter said the same of handbags. Just 15% of the 940 respondents said they were still splurging on work clothing. ...

I am delighted to hear that there will be another accessories catalog from J.Crew- they always do an amazing job with styling and layering. As for the jewelry itself- I like it for the most part. There are some really lovely items. One of my all time favorite pieces is the Golden Bird's-Nest Ring (Item 11171; $65.00), which I get compliments on every time I wear it. Then there are some other pieces that I can't believe made it past production (for example, refer to "Questionable Item of the Week: Atomic Flower Necklace"). Also, like many of you- I am in love with their Collection Handbags (especially the Jaime, the Sean, & the Frankie!)

What are your thoughts on J.Crew's jewelry and accessories now that the category has been around for awhile? Has your opinion (in terms of style, quality, price, and the like) change over the years?


  1. I really love J crew handbags. I have a few jewelry pieces, but I find them to be priced high and I wait for the sales to purchase.

    OT- I noticed that there is no 'Collection' tab under features on the website. What is up with that? I also noticed the 'Silk Cotton Ellie dress' is "on sale" for $245, but the regular price is $250. A whole $5 difference! :)

  2. i love jcrew accesories,esp. jewelry.
    it adds just so much to a outfit.
    i have been collecting the jewelry for a little over a year and i love it is like candy.
    so far the quality has been excellent.

  3. i'm a fan of a few bags (Frankie, Rattan Clutch, Candace Patent Tote, Magazine tote), and the fun colorful bangles. I haven't purchased any other jewelry even though they look pretty bc IRL it is too big/heavy on me.

    I totally agree with the candy moment - shoes, bags, and jewelry are easy to try on and more easy to justify as investments! ("I will wear those shoes for decades" : ) )

  4. I received my small metallic silver gallery hobo bag and I really love it. I've been collecting several jewelry pieces from J. Crew but only if they are on sale. I really love the new fall pieces though I don't think I could walk around with layers of heavy necklaces or bracelets... but that's just me.
    I must say it's hard for me to pass up on nice bag or shoes from J. Crew.

  5. I wore my tortoiseshell resin bracelet for the first time yesterday, and by lunchtime the little pin that holds the hinge together was starting to fall out. I don't know how to fix it other than to push it back in. It's a very substantial weight and beautiful color, though.

    I love their belts, though, and my sea green Sonia clutch from last fall!

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  7. Huge update on the site this morning...if only FS would go away!

    I like some of J.Crew's smaller jewelry, but I don't think I've ever purchased full price.

  8. I always like J Crew scarves. Picked up the Jersey stripe one in camel champagne the other day after seeing it styled all over the store.

  9. Like Kay mentioned, update this AM was absolutely huge, 1000+ items. Picked up a few new (more "fall-ish") colors of items I already have and know ... FS and all.

    I love JC accessories. The jewelry can be huge, I try to stick to the medium-sized pieces. I kind of love the chunkiness and "noise" when I wear them ... it keeps me company!

  10. I do love their jewelry - it's fun and really livens up my very basic wardrobe. That being said, there have been very few pieces for which I have paid full price.

    And the candy comment - so true, so true.

  11. Yeah, great sale update- thanks for the heads up ladies! Picked up a few pairs of solid colored chino shorts and a cashmere t-neck in heather silver.

  12. You can find so much better quality and style with vintage jewelry at antique stores, thrift stores, or on Ebay, at much lower prices than J Crew's. And you can find new pieces for better prices on Etsy that aren't manufactured by the thousands in China.

    I can't speak for the bags, because I've never had one.

  13. I don't have any of their bags, but I do love a lot of their jewelry. I've never paid FP though. Although there's a new necklace out that could change my mind. :) (the gold and crystal-cluster necklace - tried it on yesterday and it's lovely and light!)

  14. Thanks for the sale update ladies! I was able to snag a couple of cardigans I'd wanted. :)

  15. It's like this article was written about me!

    I've been cutting back on my clothing budget and thinking that jewelry is a wonderful way to update my wardrobe for fall. I love J. Crew jewelry & bags. 80% pleased with my jewelry purchases and 100% pleased with my bag purchases. I'm definitely a collector. I haven't worn necklaces in years until I purchased my giraffe double strand and I've never looked back. The Desert Flower necklace gets compliments ever single time and goes with everything.

    Hello Fall!

  16. I have only purchased one jewelry item from J.Crew, the stone-ribbon necklace in glazed pecan. I haven't worn it yet but hope to bring it out for fall.

    I love the accessories and J.Crew does them very well. The colors and styles are usually right on trend, which makes it easy to wear them with what you have or something new.

  17. I admire J.Crew's jewelry from afar; and look for similar vintage pieces from thrift stores or ebay. I feel like sometimes the price doesn't match the quality but it is soo gorgeous! If I had a store near me where I could purchase something on sale I would be more inclined to have few pieces.

    Love the handbags, and belts - they are lovely.

    The shoes are gorgeous too but it bugs me a bit that the lining is synthetic.

  18. Oh gawd, how I love accessories! Not a fan of costume jewelry, although "never say never", some of J.Crew's gets me pondering.

    I am of course, a shoe lover, and have purchased quite a few J.Crew shoes but since they went to synthetic lining and sole I will only buy if they are marked down as the quality is not great but the styles are often just too adorable to pass up on deal. I tend to splurge on top quality expensive brands and at times think I need a 12-step program to deal with my habit.

    I do have a lot of other J.Crew accessories including bags, belts, hats, scarves, gloves, hair toys, socks and tights. I usually find the quality to be very good and a lot of them become most favorite, especially the shearling items and definitely, the bags. Oh yes, the fabulous bags. Hardly priced for impulse "candy moment" purchases but useful enough that they are worth the spend.

  19. I love JC's jewelry and handbags --they take outfits to the next level of chic, IMO! I agree with others that the jewelry is made from fairly cheap materials, but, I find that buying it on sale takes away that guilty feeling. As for the handbags, I've never been disappointed with the quality. My latest purchase was the large metallic leather gallery hobo in warm shell -- it was love at first sight!

  20. Shulvr - I haven't bought shoes from crew since last year...but when did they go to synthetic linings and soels???? Say it isn't so!!! I guess that accounts for a good part of the reason why a lot of their shoes for me are more often than not pretty uncomfortable. Come to think of it, I haven't really seen them tout their "Made in Italy" origins in a while. Bummer.

    Same thing happened with Banana Republic. Back in the day, they had well crafted shoes with Italian leather and leather soles. Then, about 2-3 years ago they went to cheaper materials and it totally shows. I hope that JC continues to at least use Italian leathers...

  21. mediocrudo, I'm not sure when they started using synthetics (or as they put it, man-made) but it must be at least a couple years now. Some of the boots and maybe shoes/sandals are still all-leather or all-leather with rubber sole but usually not.

    Nothing beats all-leather for lasting looks, comfort and a fit that shapes to your foot. I notice that the price point of all-leather shoes in various brands seems to have gone up steeply over the past couple years so maybe synthetics help to keep the prices in check. I get so much enjoyment out of my shoes that I am willing to pay more for quality.

  22. I own only one piece of JC jewellery but I adore it -- the yellow glass bead necklace from last year (with the jeweled bug clasp). It was expensive, around $145 I think, but I have no regrets. It is substantial, classic, yet with a twist that makes it as perfect to dress up a t-shirt and jeans as it is with a dress & heels.

    I like a lot of their jewellery, but for the price, I have to weigh whether I'd prefer a pair of shoes or cashmere sweater instead that I'll get more wear out of.

  23. Accessories review time!

    Classic leather belt - got these in stone and glazed hazelnut (all colors were $19.99 for like, a day - now only the stone is $19.99, all others back to $29.50). Great color, feel substantial, nice basic pieces. The stone is a great neutral grey. I recommend if you're a fan of JC belts!

    Chandelier necklace - holy moley, ladies, this necklace is HUGE! Fairly heavy too - I gasped when I took it out of the box. It looks kinda cute on, but I don't think I can see myself wearing it out. Funny, when these big necklaces are styled in the catalog they don't seem as huge.

    Silk-ribbon chain link necklace - holey moley, ladies, these chains STINK! The brassy smell was overwhelming. Anybody else notice this, or know a way to get rid of it? It's kinda cute - but I thought that the sash was attached to a chain necklace, which is not the case - the sash has the chains sewn onto it, so you can't remove it and tie on a different color, wear the chains without the sash, etc. I wish I'd known that and that would've deterred me from purchasing it.

    There you have it - I do love JC's belts and headbands, some of their jewelry and handbags. I feel like I've had more misses than hits with them lately, but I'll keep persevering! ;)

  24. Just call me 'Bag Lady' ;-)

    I'm a huge fan of J.Crew handbags. The quality has always been great IME and the looks are classy and functional. My favorite of all time has to be the Frankie in cherry red.

    I'm warming up to the Lexi tote for fall but I'm curious whether the tiny hardware would really hold up to wear as a messenger bag if it's fully loaded. I guess an IRL view is in order to find out!

    I'm also loving the metallic belt in carob and the wool herringbone bucket hat in butterscotch.

  25. i have to say i love the jewelry line and i hope it's here to stay....thanks for the great blogging.. maureenlynne

  26. I fell in love with the jewelled garland set and bought the necklace and earrings and I don't regret it, even though it's just ordinary crystals (maybe, the shop assistants weren't *that* sure) because it's just so pretty!I feel mildly nutty for buying them but on the other hand, they made for a satisfying purchase. I guess I just like them!


Dear J.Crew Aficionadas & Aficionados: Please feel free (and encouraged) to share your thoughts and opinions. :) However, please note that this is still a personal blog. So comments that are considered inappropriate (e.g. obscene, racist, homophobic, personal attacks, rude, and just plain mean) will be removed.

And now back to J.Crew! :)