Thursday, August 26, 2010

Talbots Copying J.Crew Too?

In Tuesday's "J.Crew News: Battle with Ann Taylor" post, we discussed the similarities of Ann Taylor (& AT Loft) offerings with those from J.Crew. Many of you mentioned Talbots as another go-to retailer.

Well, I just got a catalog from them today and... Dayum! I thought I was looking at a J.Crew catalog!

The Talbots cover has the same rich, dark tones that J.Crew's September catalog has. But that's not all! Many of J.Crew's {lovely} models from season's past are in the Talbots latest issue too.

As for the clothes... There were lots of {beautiful} pieces in the Talbots catalog that reminded me of J.Crew's current offerings. Below are a few examples.
Talbot's Sequin Boyfriend Cardigan (Item C21025; $149.00) versus J.Crew's Ombré Paillette Cardigan (Item 27176; $118.00, now $79.99).

Talbots' Sequin Silk Sweater (Item 16025; $129.00) versus Sequined Starland Tank (Item 22401; $138.00, now $59.99).

Talbots' Faux Fur Collar ($49.00) versus J.Crew's Mongolian Lamb Stole (Item 31393; $98.00).

I realize that J.Crew borrows a few elements of design from other designers when it comes to their own styles. However, it does feel like some of J.Crew's direct competitors are borrowing from J.Crew. (I could be wrong, since I only really pay attention to J.Crew.) It seems like J.Crew is clearly doing something right to have all these other retailers changing their styles to that of J.Crew's. ;)

What are your thoughts on Talbots similarities to J.Crew? Do you like Talbots? What do think of the various retailers sharing a striking resemblance to J.Crew (or maybe it's vice versa, what do I know)? ;)

79 comments:

  1. While many retailers indeed have been influenced by J.Crew, I disagree that many are outright copying. I was reading Harpers Bazaar last night, and many of the "must have fall items" from very high end designers are copied from J.Crew. The purpose of ready to wear is to copy elements of high end fashion and bring it to the masses (us!). So, Talbots may not be copying J.Crew per se, but all mass retailers are certainly copying designers such as Prada, Dries Van Noten, etc.

    I, quite frankly, am tired of the accusations that everyone else is copying J.Crew. (No offense, Alexis!). Certainly retailers are taking a page from J.Crew's book. They are very successful, have a cult following, and have been one of the only retailers to report positive earnings in this economy. But, J.Crew is not 100% original. Jenna and her team, along with other retailers designers all go to the same Paris, New York and London fashion shows and therefore, will all copy what they see on the runways! Their job, as designers, is to create looks that are similar to those that we see in the pages of Vogue. It is purely marketing and a matter of increasing profits for the company.

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  2. I think Talbots has been kicking J.Crew's butt recently. The clothes are a higher quality and are more reasonably priced! Also, I feel like everything at the Crew has been so blaaahhhhh recently...whereas I'm intrigued by Talbots collection.

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  3. JC: You raise a good point. I agree that J.Crew (& various other retailers) copies elements from higher-end designers (a la explanation from Devil Wears Prada). However, J.Crew has re-invented themselves in the past 6 or so years. I don't remember Lands End, LL Bean, Talbots, or Ann Taylor doing that same transformation until recently. In my opinion (which isn't worth much), I think the other direct competitors saw how well J.Crew was doing while every other retailer was not. Their response was to mimic *some* (but not all) of J.Crew's successful moves. Again, just my opinion. :)

    KGD: I have to admit, I am intrigued after flipping through the catalog too. :)

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  4. I was just in Talbot's today!

    While there is still an awful lot of Grandma items, the product mix is trending more youthful and stylish.

    I'm in serious lust with the camel coat modeled by Linda Evangelista in Talbot's new ad campaign. It wasn't in-store yet but can be ordered online.

    The leopard coat also featured in the campaign were just being unboxed and 3 were already on hold.

    I will definitely be buying from Talbot's this fall. Their quality is far superior to J.Crew's for the same price.

    Now if they'd just update their merchandising and dump the red doors...

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  5. Hmm, the items shown in the post from Talbot's appeal to me. Esp the longer length of the sequin sweater.

    Alexis, I agree w/what you wrote (except the part about your opinion not meaning much).

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  6. Interesting post! I was very struck by the pages and pages of jeans and the use of older and curvier models. Later on the catalog started to look a bit more old-ladyish, but for the most part, the silhouettes and fabrics were updated and more stylish than Talbot's usual.

    This is great news for those of us who prefer the wider straps, higher cut arm holes, and in general, a more middle-aged-friendly cut.

    I'm going to check out the merchandise in the stores to see whether it's as good as it looks. I hope it's not Talbot's usual boxy cut!

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  7. Alexis I disagree, everyone copies the runway designs no one is copying J Crew, as someone else pointed out J Crew is quicker to bring out the new trends. As for the reinvention I think the economy has alot to do with it.

    I am spending my money elsewhere these days, I need to see clothes irl online shopping is too risky with J Crew's quality and sizing issues.

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  8. casual-crew: First, I love that we can disagree without being disagreeable (I hope that makes sense- I mean it as a positive). :) I see where you are coming from and you have a point, that the economy had a lot to do with it. Which is why I think the other retailers started to see what J.Crew was doing- because J.Crew was doing something right (profits and stock price up) while other retailers were not. Even Chico's started to re-invent themselves recently by looking somewhat similar to J.Crew, Ann Taylor, etc.

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  9. Talbot's look is very polished compared to JC's more edgy/lived in style.

    Doesn't matter how much I love the pics in Talbot's catalog, it's still a matter of fit. Haven't tried on their stuff for years, so who knows, maybe nothing will fit me there.

    I think the fashion/retail world at large is jumping on a conservative/classic bandwagon (check out Prada and LV), that JC did so well a few years back. It's clear from the Spring/Summer, and now the Fall, rollouts, that JC is riding another train altogether.

    I, for one, am looking forward to see how JCA's mix in pieces from other retailers with their JC items.

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  10. Have to say, alot of the Talbots stuff fits me way better than J.Crew. I really think J.Crew sizes are tailored for tall and skinny women. Shorter length tops, necklines that don't drop down into indecent territory and reasonable length skirts. And all without being "Old Lady-ish"!

    The aspect of J.Crew that other retailers don't seem to be able to capture are the colors. When J.Crew does color, they come up hues that really can be special and out of the ordinary.

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  11. i always thought it was pretty obvious that jcrew isn't the only mass market retailer who copies high end designers. maybe it's just that others are now investing more in their online and catalog styling. i never shop at ann taylor or talbots, so i can't speak to what their models used to look like.

    also, over the last year or two jcrew's (former) models are all over the place-- macy's, nordstrom, boden, garnet hill, even old navy.

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  12. Alexis haven't J Crew stock prices dropped recently?

    My grocery store in Canada have J Crew designs and we do not have J Crew stores in Canada, which makes me believe they (other retailers) are copying the runway designs, and not JC.

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  13. casual-crew: Yes, J.Crew's most *recent* stock price (as in the last month) took a dip (consumers can only buy oh-so-much ruffles and sequins I guess!) ;) However, the past two years alone- overall- have been very good to J.Crew (as I stock owner, I have benefited.) And the overhaul/changes to its direct competitors/retailers are within that time frame.

    I should also add, I read an article that Ann Taylor actually hired several members of J.Crew's creative team. So it's not a ridiculous assumption to think there is some connection. ;)

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  14. Given production schedules you can't really be copying when several different stores release almost the same items at the very same time. They are just following the trends and top designers, as many of you have said. Perhaps the other retailers have learned where to find the best cues for the upcoming seasons and certainly they cannot stand still in this economy. I would not be surprised if some of the manufacturers were leaking information either. It's really competetive in those emerging economies.

    Regarding a few J.Crew shoes that someone mentioned the other day, Chie Mihara had a sandal similar to the Ares platform last year and Brooks Brothers had a high-heeled oxford last winter that is TDF. Of course, these are not from Ann Taylor, which was the comparison, and they were not exactly the same as the J.Crew versions, they were all leather and cost a bit more, but I bought them at full price. I seldom buy J.Crew shoes because although they have some really cute styles, they are not great quality and I'm one of those people who wants my purchases to last.

    I'm sure some of you are out there with the eyeroll but my family has worn BB for years and I'm sure that's why I lean toward the classics. Yes, more expensive and less "current" than J.Crew, but that navy blazer you bought last year will look just as good this year, and next year, and the year after that. Kind of like the Bella jacket I guess.

    Just my $0.02

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  15. I think a lot of J Crew's success is due to marketing. Mickey was a marketing genius at Gap, it wasn't about the clothes (I think Gap jeans are way better now than when Mickey was at Gap). He's brought over his Midas-touch selling strategies to the Crew. I am sure that he has trained his PR staff well, to constantly be on the phone to journalists and to other fashion PR too, so that J Crew is always in the magazines. The Crew knows how to package their stuff well, and how to sell it! All mall retailers copy the runway shows; I don't even think J Crew is the best at copying (the UK's 'high-street' retailers are more trendy, for example). But a Mickey Drexler comes along once (or maybe twice?) in a generation.

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  16. This is the exact catalog I received several weeks ago in the mail and have been commenting on in this blog. AppGal has also posted about this catalog and on this site has linked pictures of her Talbots experience. I won't comment further as might get ATTACKED for a second time today by dear old SWEETSY. But man, isn't it fun just to look at Talbots in a new light:)and SURPRISE Alexis of JCREW FAME has made a post on Talbots. Enough said.

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  17. I do not see why there are so many comments toward other retailers copying J. Crew. Think we might want to stop flattering JC a bit perhaps? Talbots as great example has a very strong following and the one thing that I continue to reference is that they have not lost sight of their classic offerings. Unlike J. Crew, who over the last couple of years has seemed to veer a little off course from the items we have come to love and expect from them. Retailers such as a Talbot's and Ann Taylor are reacting as they should toward seasonal trends and hooray for them in catching our attention! Seems of late the only attention J. Crew has gotten has been disappointed reactions toward the lacking quality and overly eccentric pieces that many of us would never envision in our wardrobes.

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  18. Go in any store from Old Navy to Prada and you will be accosted by a cardigan. Trends spam all price points. I think what is the more blatant JC rip off is art direction of images in the catalog and email missives. Mickey Drexler is a genius with branding. It takes skill and discipline to pull it off. If you look at the Gap site and ads they still use the crisp white backgrounds and clean lighting he instilled. While their catalogs seem to be copying JC, Talbots and Nordstrom product shots always send me running. The lighting and backgrounds instantly conjure up the smell of an old person's home and I see an FTD floral bouquet in the background.

    xoxo--I love BB too--I wear the boys shirts.

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  19. @gem twin. "FTD bouquet in the background" LOL. I'll let you know if I see one when I hit their B&m this weekend.

    JC didn't invent the cardigan, or for that matter, embellishment. My grandmother has a sequined cardigan that she wore for, like, 20 years. Everyone thought she was nuts, but she trotted it out every holiday like clockwork.

    Slightly OT, someone from Ann Taylor had commented on the AT vs JC thread. So stands to reason Talbots will be "eavesdropping" too?

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  20. with all the talk about Talbots, I went into a store for a visit last weekend. The sales staff was very nice and attentive, but sorry, it still looked styled much too old for my taste.

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  21. From Market Watch:
    "J. Crew shares /quotes/comstock/13*!jcg/quotes/nls/jcg (JCG 31.20, -2.23, -6.67%) dropped 7% to $31.83, and had declined by as much as 10% following the clothing retailer's new fiscal 2010 earnings projection of $2.25 to $2.35 a share. It had previously expected earnings of $2.35 to $2.45 a share.

    It also said it expects third-quarter earnings of 55 cents to 60 cents a share. That projection falls short of Wall Street currently forecast for 71 cents a share.

    For the second quarter, net income at J. Crew nearly doubled to $34.9 million, or 53 cents a share, from $18.6 million, or 29 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. Revenue rose 14% to $407.5 million. Analysts surveyed by FactSet Research had forecast earnings of 45 cents a share on revenue of $402.8 million. Comparable-store sales rose 11% and direct sales increased 16% in the quarter.

    Ahead of the late session, J. Crew shares for the year were down 25%."

    ....maybe an explanation of the movement so quickly of new items to Final Sale.

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  22. Not a fan of Talbots at all. Sorry.

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  23. I do like some of what Talbots has to offer. For example, I like that Talbots' fur collar is faux vs. JCrew's mongolian lamb version. However, Talbots still has a middle age vibe (not that there is anything wrong with that) and while their quality is good, the clothes are pricey. Still a tried and true JCA

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  24. I tried on a few pair of Talbots' jeans today and was completely unimpressed. The denim was excellent, the washes were perfect, and they were really well made. However, the rise was hopelessly high even in the "signature" and boyfriend fits that are supposed to be lower. Also, the pockets were way too far down. The overall look was sad.

    I did however, walk out with an ivory silk ruffled cami. It is similar to a couple of J Crew's current offerings, but was much better made and had just enough embellishment vs. J Crew's overdone ones.

    They still need to work on their fits to make them a go to store for me.

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  25. I love the new Talbots catalogs and I've purchased a few items there this spring and summer. As great as the catalogs look, the stores don't quite give off the same vibe. The service is always friendly and attentive, especially compared to the inconsistent service at the JC B&M I occasionally visit.

    I've been pretty disappointed with JC lately, especially this fall, but if you really want to see disappointment, to to the Talbots FB page and read the comments from their older customers. Their older (by which I mean both long-term and more up there in age) are very upset about the new Talbots direction. They feel aged out, sized out, and left out. I feel for them, because that will be me in 15 years. (OK, maybe 10.) Ladies, it is going to happen to all of us someday! Retailers don't like to be identified with the middle-aged customer because no matter how chic she is, the younger generation will always call her frumpy. So, as each brand chases a younger customer, eventually both ends will meet in the middle and Gymboree will start offering clothes for seniors.

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  26. I just can't bring myself to buy anything from Talbots. I admired the latest catalog in part because yes, it reminded me of JCrew in '07, say. But as others have said, for me, the colors are off, the fit is off, etc.. I'd buy one of their bags, so reasonably priced!, if their name weren't so brazenly emblazoned on the hardware.

    I do think JCrew is going to be forced by the competition to reassess. I am confident they are up to the challenge!

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  27. Whether or not Talbots or Ann Taylor is copying J.Crew, I am more intrigued by their offerings than ever before. I am currently lusting over Talbots' jacket offerings, and know from experience that their pencil skirts are of high quality and fit well. Are they better than J.Crew? Not necessarily. But it is definitely nice to have some other options. I like diversity in my closet :)

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  28. I know this probably isn't what Talbots wants to hear, but my mom is furious with them. She is sized out of their new direction while I'm not ready for it yet (I'm in my mid-20s). Many of us JCAs are upset at J.Crew for abandoning their core customer -- well that's how my mom feels about Talbots right now.

    Personally I look at their clothes warily. I don't really understand why they're trying so hard to appeal to a customer that already has plenty of options from Banana Republic to Gap to White House Black Market to Chicos to J.Crew to whatever. If they had an item I loved I would buy it. But I think their strategy is wonky. Why enter such a crowded market segment?

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  29. I love gymboree seniors--given the liklihood of diapers it could work well!

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  30. As someone said about ATL and AT in the other post, there is just something that is not right about the clothes....same goes for Talbots, IMO. It's like they're headed in the right direction and the intention is there but the execution is lacking. I would buy some things from AT or Loft, but in general nothing really attracts me the way JC does. I know some people don't like the new styling, but I still love way more than I can afford!
    As for Talbots, it does seem like everything is still off. I would feel incredibly dowdy in those clothes.
    I even went to the website just to make sure i still felt the same, and I clicked on the 'apparel' page. My eyes were immediately accosted with the biggest denim no-no I can imagine- awkward sitting-induced jeanus! ewwwww
    and they have the audacity to say "perfect fit denim" right next to it!
    I'm sure Talbots is perfect for some people and fits the bill, but for me JC and Talbots are just not comparable.

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  31. I got a copy of Talbots' catalog too and I was thinking of the extact same thing. Did you see the Victoria's Secret catalog? That gold shiny jacket the model was wearing just reminds me of the galaxy purse of J Crew. I just see JCrew style here and there and everything, then I thought, is it just the season? But most of the time it seems J. Crew is pretty and seem more original. Or is it just because we are addicted to J.Crew?

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  32. By the way, I've visited Talbots' website. I thought it looks like a hybrid of JCrew style and J.Jill's website!

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  33. OT, but I'm watching a show on cable called You're WearihatTIehat?!?!! for the first time. It's a double mom/daughter makeover show. The hostess slammed the daughter's wardrobe. As I looked at the daughter's outfits, it occurred to me that it was quite Madewell/J Crewish in styling: platform wedge sandals, layering tees, ballooning cropped pants, plaid shirt, and even a menswear military inspired jacket. Hmm, I guess stylist Lucienne Salomone doesn't go for "borrowed from the boys" looks.

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  34. Oops! Typing on Iphone while watching tv.

    I meant to type You're Wearing That?!?

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  35. Whoaaaaaa look at that pic that says 'yes, it's Talbots' ... very telling!

    it will take a lot to get me into a Talbots store. i tried last fall when peeps here were expressing love for it, but i just couldn't get into it. perhaps i will loook again...?

    while we're on the subject, i trotted off to ON tonight with my F&F 30% coupon in hand and happened upon their version of the JC Downtown Field Jacket in that super dark green-brown color. they call it the Women's Cinched Zip-Front Jacket and so far it has 4.5 out of stars online. [forgive me if i am late to the party on this one, but i got excited when i saw it. :-)]

    they actually have 2 similar jackets, one has a hood (RUINED the whole coat by putting red plaid lining inside the hood, WTF!? blah!) and one without (the cinch one, $39.50). They had one left in my size (M) and it was hiding out on a size L hanger. They only had 2 other Larges and one XL with hood and that was it, so obviously peeps are snatching these up.

    I really didn't need another jacket. I bought 2 or 3 of the ON knockoff lieutenant jackets earlier this summer for like $10 a pop on sale. But I did really like the ON version of the field jacket, even though the silhouette is shorter than JC's and clearly the craftsmanship is ON quality. It fits TTS to slightly narrow, IMO. I'm considering buying a Medium Tall just to get the extra length I was looking for.

    For about $28, I'll take it, and recommend it to anyone who cringed at the price on the JC downtown field jacket. :-)

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  37. I stopped by the Talbots store today, and surprisingly, actually purchased something. My first Talbots purchase! Granted, they didn't have my size in store, and a different store will be sending the skirt that I bought to my house, so I don't know how it's going to fit. The quality seemed to be superb, and the skirt is much sturdier than what JCrew is offering right now. I am concerned about the fit because it seems to be targeted towards older audience. I was also a little freaked out by a whole bunch of grandmas checking out the same merchandise as myself :). But I do agree that Talbots stuff looks much trendier and youthful than before. Always happy to have more shopping options!

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  38. So here is the question I have. With all the execs / merchandisers /middle level managers playing musical chairs with the women's clothing companies, when does it stop being "copying JCrew" and start being the look that those particular people bring to the companies they are working for?

    Jcrew doesn't particularly look like they did in the past...staff has moved on, and brought their influences to other places. I think thats all there is to it.

    Just my two cents. As a huge Talbots fan, (clothing fit is divine) I have noticed their changing look over the past 2-3 years as their corporate office has taken on people from other companies, the look has shifted.

    It works that way in high fashion as well. Certain designers have a look that follows them, and leaves the older company they work for as they move on.....Not sure why its such a novelty in the mall store world. :-)

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  39. I have always liked Talbots for their petite blazers. They fit my curvy, big busted shape perfectly. Otherwise it has been hit or miss for me, though I have occasionally found things here and there.

    What I like most about Talbots is the variety in sizing available IN STORE. Most stores, even the small one in my town, have petites IN STORE. The larger stores have petites, womens, and even petite womens sizes all right there. That is admirable. They'll probably stop that as part of this new direction.

    As for copying runway v. copying JC, the runway stuff I see in magazines is nothing like JC, so I agree with Alexis that jC got the vibe first. The problem is they have kept it too long (ie ruffles, makeup neutral colors, etc) so others have had time to copy.

    I really enjoyed the conversation on this thread. What a great bunch on this blog!

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  40. I got the Talbots catalog on the same day as the J.Crew catalog, and was pretty struck by the similarities as well, Alexis.

    I don't think it's necessarily "copying", but as was mentioned previously, it's more of a similarity in art direction and styling.

    It will be interesting to see if the trend trickles down to the lower-priced chains...

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  41. 20% off final sale! OURTREAT and free ship over $150.

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  42. "I was also a little freaked out by a whole bunch of grandmas checking out the same merchandise as myself :). "

    Irene - lol, that cracks me up because that's exactly how I would feel! I'm so insecure I'd begin to doubt my selection & leave the store!

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  43. I was in Talbots last week and reviewed a couple of items on my blog

    1moreshoppingblog.blogspot.com

    Tonight I was in there again and will post some more pictures from there soon.

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  44. It is interesting what people consider matronly. I wore Talbots in my 20's. White Bermuda short and a cute plaid top that tied in the front. Definitely something I would not wear almost 20 years later! So I think Talbots has definitely changed b/c I shopped there in my 20's and it was not matronly then. I have not shopped that store in years being a JCA for a long time but now JCrew is basically too trendy (on most items) for work so I did head to Talbots. Had a great chat with a very personable SA and bought several items including skirts...

    AppGal, you are so right about their pencil skirts and blazers:)

    ALso gorgeous scarves and a cute little booklet (free) on how to wear them comes with purchase.

    Happy Shopping.

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  45. WOW! I haven't seen a Talbot's catalog in YEARS! Impressive transformation.

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  46. I love this topic!! Yesterday I stopped by Talbots and had a ball looking at everything. It is not J Crew by any means but I think it has updated classics where J Crew has steered away from anything "classic" at all as of late. I think Talbots still has a little way to go, but it is a great direction. I also wondered what would happen to their loyal clientele because I did not see much in there that would appeal to them at all.

    A SA brought out the Leopard coat and dress that is not out on the floor and let me say...its gorgeous! She also out a thick belt around it and it was stunning. It is reasonable priced and I think they will FLY out the door.

    I went to J Crew right after and I have to say while the styling is not quite there at Talbots they win hands down for quality. It you visit the two stores back to back it is actually depressing to see how much JC has declined.

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  47. Greetings from Italy to all the JCA (I am on vacation but can't stop reading about JCrew apparently)!

    I agree with Lauren. There are basically two strong trends for fall in the high fashion world: the military and the ladylike (especially Vuitton and Prada). JCrew has apparently decided to go full-front with the military trend (renamed Eddie Bauer goes to girls camp) and left out the ladylike trend completely, quite surprisingly because that's where they come from. Also anyone who likes to browse fashion magazines is starving for CAMEL but there is not a single thing camel at JCrew (if we for the $1200 cashmere popover).
    What's a girl with a limited budget do? Go where she can find what she sees in the magazines. The latest Talbots collections seems to have captured what's lacking at JCrew this season and while I will always go to Jcrew first for the special pieces, if Talbots can make me go into their stores to have a look (which the did) they have half won already because (in fact I purchased something there already).

    So I don't think that Talbots is copying JCrew (like the Loft is doing), they are just investing some money in marketing to attract a younger crowd. By the way, someone from Talbots commented on my blog, so they are definitively watching ;-).

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  48. Very interesting topic! I haven't stopped by Talbots recently but was struck by how similar the catalog looked compared to older JC catalogs. Love to see Anouk and Angela in it! I actually got a pair of tan leather kiltie heels at the Talbots outlet for $15 last week. Very cute, and good quality. As far as the clothes go, a lot of the pieces are just a bit off in sizing for me.

    Hexicon is right about the Talbots Facebook page - a lot of those ladies are MAD! I can't say I blame them. They're especially ticked off about the implementation of Final Sale. Interesting, though ... a lot of them are complaining that Talbots quality is taking a nosedive. So is it still good quality, or has JC gotten so bad that declining quality at Talbots looks great by comparison?

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  49. Lauren: Did you happen to notice what type of material the leopard coat and sheath dress were made of? TIA!

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  50. jcrewjunkie,

    It is impressive isn't it???

    Lauren,

    Enjoyed reading your post. I like this topic too.

    Also, will have to check out the Talbots ladies on Facebook. Thanks for the heads up. Maybe they sound like me complaiing about how JCrew has changed. But at least there it Talbots now.

    I will always check JCrew first too and then other stores second for what I need. I wanted the gray knit scarf but it is final sale at JCrew now plus shipping.

    Got a gorgeous LE one with pointelle stiching for the same price--15% educator's discount and no shipping. Would have liked the JCrew one but the LE one is actually a bit more dressy or casual in its weave.

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  51. stella,

    I don't remember the material but it was GORGEOUS and the price was right and the fabric felt wonderful. I am on a coat shopping ban though. I bought so many on trips overseas last year as well as JCrew that I have to stop!!! 10 coats in one year is enough already.

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  52. Stella-

    I did not pay attention to what exactly the fabric was but it was Gorgeous as Genny has attested.

    I wanted to note that the SA tried the Coat on with the belt and it looked fabulous..two different looks with and without a belt both stunning.

    It reminds me of a vintage piece you would find in your Grandmother's closet and be excited.

    It will definitely turn heads!!

    OT but did anyone else get dropped from JC's email list? I had to sign up again...my notices just stopped coming.

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  53. Lauren and Genny: Thanks so much for the feedback. I am anxiously awaiting this coat's online debut. I am hoping they'll have a fall promo code that we can take advantage of!

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  54. I have noticed that Ann Taylor and Talbots have been copying J. Crew, in fact, Talbots has been copying others for years. I would like to see both companies do more innovation. Now, that said, right now, Ann Taylor and Talbots have much more that interests me than J. Crew does. Both have some beautiful things for fall. As for Talbots and "old lady" clothes, Talbots aims for a wide age range, so yeah, they're going to have some "older" clothes, although my 80 year old mother wouldn't be caught dead in the old lady stuff.

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  55. Ema - you are so right about the camel. One of J. Crew's strengths has always been its colors, but it and others need to feature more camel. Camel is such a great shade for fall and winter.

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  56. Stella,

    I want a Talbots promo or sale code SO BADLY right now!

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  57. I was at Talbots yesterday and they really are stepping it out with every roll out.
    Even in the summer, they were too bright and too lady-like for me, but I think they must be listening to us here. They have more and more of 'classic with a twist' pieces.
    Their latest Herringhbone blazer with brown collar, leather skirt, fur collar, and platform lace tied booties really speak to my fashion sensitivities while being totally wearable off the rack.
    The quality seems to be better and they use natural fabrics.
    I think J Crew has such a following because they were selling us a (imaginary) lifestyle of this thin, tall, blond WASP college educated woman, former tomboy, who is almost surprised that she likes to express herself through fashion.
    Btw, I only fit the part starting at 'college' but I still wanted to be her, and willing to pay for it. But big part of the appeal was that I thought that in the frenzy of shopping I am also getting quality and good value for the money.
    If I am moving to other retailers it is not because I am turn off by styling but because I find it hard to justify the price for the quality.
    For example, I wanted to get a fur vest for this fall but not at $600, so I ordered one from Boden winter preview for $70. It is faux, of course, which in my world is better for fur items.
    The Mongolian lamb stole? I almost spilled my coffee laughing when I saw it on DaniBP's blog. But I still want to get the fur callar from Talbot.
    My last award card was $100, but I don't think I will get any for the fall unless they release the wool blend Bon-Bon coat from Net-a-porter.
    Nothing else is on my wish list for now. J Crew still makes the best fitting pencil skirts but I probably have 30 of them so it is hard to justify a new one.
    My recent and only purchases were the lace pencil skirt (still in store only) and the MacAlister wedges. HOwever I was in Bloomingdales today and I bought the new Coach suede brown wedges for $150 ($178 - 15% coupon). They look very similar to JC but are lined in leather and soooo comfortable that I want to wear them as house slippers.
    Also, the wedge has a platform and is similar height, no more than 3". I was trying to find the link but they don't have them online yet.
    J Crew, through their marketing strategy, makes us feel cool while shopping. But at the same time it makes me feel like a fool for buying into it.

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  58. Sorry, even with the similarities, I can't ever see myself shopping at Talbots. I went there too many times as a kid with my Mom and it will forever be "mom clothes" to me. I'm sure it's cute, but I can't get past that memory or stigma.

    Other than JC and Anthropolgie, I find most of my other clothes at on-line boutiques. If you know where to look, you can find some really neat stuff out there.

    I echo that everyone seems to be doing the same things . . these are the fall trends. Piperlime has a good on-line spread on the Fall fashion must haves . . .includes military, vintage, over the knee boots, etc.

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  59. I'm really glad for those that are finding so much they like at Talbots. My finds have been few and very far in between. Since I have never liked animal print clothing, detest calf hair (so creepy) or leopard, it would be great if that all went to Talbots. I don't mind the furry purses in the J. Crew style photos but I would never buy them. It's not like I'm anti-leather, but stylistically, I just don't like it for myself at all.

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  60. Genny: If a Fall promo code for Talbots comes my way or if I stumble upon one - I'll be sure to share it with you!

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  61. Hexicon said,"So, as each brand chases a younger customer, eventually both ends will meet in the middle and Gymboree will start offering clothes for seniors."

    gem twin said, "I love gymboree seniors--given the liklihood of diapers it could work well!"
    You two are HILARIOUS!!! Thanks for the laugh:)

    I thought the lookbook for Talbots was stunning! It did remind me of the J Crew of old. I agree with gem twin. The marketing/styling/art direction is most likely a J Crew copy used in direct proportion to their changing style and aspirations to entice a younger client base. As Ema mentioned..they are also reading J Crew blogs and they are listening to what you all are saying. If J Crew ain't going back in time to meet JCA's desires, then Talbot's will. And they hope to take you with them.

    I personally cannot do Talbots. I was enticed by their lookbook and went there but the store did not reflect what I saw. It still held the negative connotations being noted on here by others. That leads me to agree they should stick with the clientele they know so well. And I agree with Roxy...why enter an already crowded market? Quality fabrics and classic looks will never go out of style and women will always be getting older.

    On the other hand, if they want to sell this new styling concept (still classic but with more of a twist), they still have a lot of work to do. The stores need an overhaul from the outside in. A new face and a grand marketing plan to bring awareness. They need to revamp everything from fit model, to patterns and actually make more clothing that *fits* smaller & younger women properly. It would take a looong time to change the attitudes of the women I know into thinking they wanted to step foot in that store. It is a perception. No matter how great the lookbook, the store seems the same.

    Personally, I don't see why all that would be worth the time, effort and $$.

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  62. I received both the J.Crew and Talbots catalogs on the same day. I asked myself whether I wanted to be styled like JC or Talbots and I chose Talbots. The JC models never seem to have time to comb their hair ;-)

    But the Talbots store experience has yet to catch up to the catalog. It is a bit mumsy.

    I found some things were dowdy while I loved the brown leather skirt. I can't wait to see the leopard coat.

    The problem is that if you're 35, there's nowhere to go. I'm 37 and sometimes JC is too young for me. I can't carry off the ruffles and sequins. I tried on the herringbone ruffle skirts just for giggles. It fit, but the only place I could wear it would be a street corner. But I haven't given up on JC just yet. I just wish they would bring back some of their clean, classic clothes.

    I like Ann Taylor, but the fit is off. Talbots is trying to fill that market and God bless them for that.

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  63. Alexis, you should definitely get a "JCrew enthusiast" medal :)

    I was absolutely mesmerized with JCrew in 2008 and 2009 until I started having issues with quality. Other people seem to complain a lot too but you remain their loyal fan :)

    Re: re-invention

    We'll see if it works out in the long run, a lot of people miss some of JCrew preppy, good quality items ;)

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  64. Hey, this is Sophie from RedChairConfessions.com, the Talbots blog. Love, love, love all the comments here [yes, even the bad ones!] and have posted it on RCC. Thanks Alexis for a terrific topic and post.

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  65. I am loving this discussion!

    As a fashion designer, I can tell you that we do knock off other brands (not just designer) but we usually just use an element from something else, not the whole idea. It does seem that J.Crew started a trend of embellished tees, ruffles, and (sometimes) over the top costume jewelry in the past few years. And I see lots of other companies from Target to Nordstrom and Gap/Banana/Old Navy.

    But what I object to is how much Loft has copied not just the styles, but the marketing, art direction, etc. (as many others have pointed out).

    I can't bring myself to shop Loft anyway, since that's what I bought when I first entered the work world and dressed terribly.

    And Talbots, no way - it's my MIL's favorite store and she is not a fashionable lady.

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  66. i think all the retailers we frequent (jcrew, talbots, anthro, atloft) get inspiration from the runways and high-end designers, and i think it's great. i don't believe talbots is copying jcrew necessarily, or vice versa. and i have to say, after YEARS of spending most of my paycheck at jcrew, much more of my $$ are now going to talbots and anthro. i am LOVING the talbots fall and holiday lookbooks.

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  67. OK, I may be over fifty, but I don't dress frumpy or "grand ma" or
    "old-lady-ish" and... I really like many Talbots items!

    Their pants don't fit me but most of my jackets and coats are from Talbots. (It would be great if they dropped the rise on some of their pants.)

    I think there is more than a bit of age stereotyping going on in this thread! Sheesh!

    I do agree that the merchandising in Talbot stores needs to better reflect the recent catalogues. I can see how the store experience could turn away new customers who are excited to check out something they saw in the catalogue. (By the way, AT Loft stores are nothing to write home about either.)

    Not sure that Talbots needs to re-size and appeal to younger women. I want current fashion that fits my body that is in-shape but not the same as when I was 20 something. And I know I have posted this before, but having many petite sizes available at Talbots is everthing to me.

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  68. Dare I jump in? I've always been attracted to Talbot's. Maybe there's a little old lady that's inside me who wants to make sure she's represented, but I really think it's the clean lines that speak to me. I have no problem showing my face at Talbot's. Granted I used to feel like a unicorn at times. I think even the SAs wondered why I was there, assuming I was shopping for someone else. Now that the style direction has shifted, I have noticed a warm greeting. The SAs recognize me in my local store & go out of their way to say hi. I really appreciate it.

    I agree that the store vibe is not the same as J Crew, but in the end, I would love to have a closet at least half filled with pieces that will last more than a year. That danggone ruffle rose t-shirt that we all flipped out over in SP09? The one that was on Ebay for over $100? Mine was ruined on the 1st wash because I didn't handwash it. It annoys me to have to be so precious with things that are designed to last one season. Ruffle here, ruffle there, ruffle ruffle everywhere. At a certain point it doesn't make sense. Not to mention that all the clothing styles run together when they have crap hanging off of them.

    I'm not sure that Talbot's is chasing a younger customer or specifically trying to steal J Crew's clientele. Let's face it. Their older customers are going to move onto poly separates from Target & Wal-Mart. Talbot's has to grab new business that they hope will grow old with them. Then the cycle will repeat. Today's older woman is much more youthful than women were a couple of decades ago. I think Talbot's is trying to reflect that. I also think they teetered waaaay far in the opposite direction and are making their way back to meet in the middle. ITA with what Bianca said. Corporate staff is changing and that's why we see similarities among these companies.

    In disclosure, I partnered with Talbot's for a giveaway at the beginning of the summer. As part of the giveaway, I selected and received this dress. I have had great experiences w/other dresses and like someone pointed out, having petites in-store is a dream. If you do a Talbot's search on my blog, you'll see I've reviewed them long before the company reached out.

    I think I'm going on and here because sometimes I feel that J Crew is a rip that I sucks me in via Crewlade. I think most of the things they have for FA10 are a clear versions of other items they've had before and I'll be very careful what I fall for. I cannot tell you the number of items gone unworn that I purchased because people raved about them here or on other blogs. Sure, I shouldn't be a sheep, but I was in a deep first love haze w/J Crew. In 08, I was on a serious mission to replace all my clothing with J Crew items. I'm thrilled to be back to my habit of shopping any and everywhere. I love J Crew, but they don't have everything I need. Like Ema said, where are the camel shades? I definitely have strong feelings for J Crew, but it's good to love other retailers. As with any relationship, only one cannot fill all of my needs.

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  69. For those of you looking for Camel Shades Talbots has a gorgeous Camel hair pencil skirt and a beautiful Camel coat due out soon.

    There is a stunning leather jacket and gorgeous leather skirt...the leather is soft soft soft!

    I think possibly some on the blog are just plain frustrated that the pieces they have known to love from J Crew are lacking as of late and are somewhat offended...for lack of a better word.

    I love J Crew and always will, but my employment situation has changed, along with my body and age and I just simply need clothes that I can wear and that will last.

    I'm hoping for some excitement in the next JC rollout, and some fun skirts and jackets of JC yesteryear...

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  70. Wow, there's some serious ageism going on here! I'm over 60 and I'm not going to "move into poly separates from Target and Walmart" - ever! I don't dress like my grandmother did or my mother does. Things have changed. Please don't stereotype like that. Thanks.

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  71. Talbots store and even the website need a major overhaul, since they apparently aren't doing a great job at showcasing the items (plus the online pics aren't good in Polyvore sets), but I'm pretty sure this is something they are already working on. I don't necessarily like everything they have to offer, but that is the case for everywhere I shop. Some pieces at Talbots work well with my style and some do not...simple as that.

    I also really think that a lot of the clothes at Talbots compliment those at J.Crew really well. Talbots is offering gorgeous blazers, dresses, and skirts, along with beautiful prints on their blouses and scarves. I wouldn't hesitate to wear a Talbots tweed blazer with one of my tees, pencil skirts, or chinos from J.Crew (along with some of my J.Crew jewelry). They would actually work quite well together to create a classic, *finished* look with a bit of a twist to keep it from being too boring.

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  72. I'm not surprised Talbots etc...are targeting a younger demographic. Retailers like them who once clothed more mature women are realizing that their customers are aging and will eventually disappear. Unless they start attracting and become relevant to today's more fashion-conscious women -- who ideally come to Talbots at around age 18 and remain brand-loyal through their 40s and beyond-- their customer base will cease to exist. It's all about adapting or dying off. They want a piece of what JC, BR, Anthro, etc...have.

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  73. SanFranCA: Thanks! I will wear that medal with my Bella. :)

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  74. SewingLibrarian - I said, "Their older customers are going to move onto poly separates." I didn't state a specific age. I was thinking grandmothers in their 80s, not in their 60s like my mom who lifts weights & competes! I won't stereotype if you don't read into my words ;-)

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  75. This was a good discussion. I definitely see the influence of JCG on TLB (and ANN, for that matter).
    I've shopped TLB for nearly 20 years (I'm in my mid-40s) and have shopped it because of the sizing. There's "old lady" stuff in there, but if you have good taste, you can bypass it.

    Sizing keeps me in TLB. I'm one of these extended misses/small plus folks and TLB provides that. Many of my bottoms come from TLB, along with bridge brands like Lafayette 148 and the late, lamented Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman. Those three bridge providers had misses and plus ranges.

    JCG will always work for me when it comes to things like cashmere sweaters, perfect-fit T-shirts, some shirts, shoes, evening bags and some jewelry. I'm mainly a sale shopper so I don't feel bad if there are quality issues.

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  76. I agree with what many commenters have said about JC, AT, Talbots and other brands all following the same runway trends. I think the only thing Talbots may be "copying" from JCrew is the styling and merchandising/marketing approach. It actually seemed for years that Talbots didn't follow ANY runway trends. Perhaps that's the difference. I've noticed Talbots' style and styling evolution recently, it finally became interesting enough for me to go into a store and start trying things on. Back in my early 20s, I wore some Talbots items because I was starting to work and wanted to look professional and Talbots fit the bill. But their overall aesthetic--whoever was directing it--refused to budge, so yes, it did stagnate and get stuck in the middle-aged/grandma aesthetic. Not that middle-aged is anything bad--I'll be there myself in 10+ years.
    But I always appreciated Talbots' dedication to dressing women of ALL SIZES. Just like Generation Kvetch commented, I appreciate that larger Talbots' stores give nearly equal space to Petites, regular Misses, Women's and Women's Petites departments IN STORE. Why should petites and women's wearers be left out of the in-store shopping experience?
    I can't tell you how many times I was disappointed by JCrew's sizing system, and the fact that their petites sizing stops at 12. They have a great aesthetic, and I really would like to wear some of their clothing, but I can't.
    Talbots' quality and construction also tends to be vastly superior to JC, AT Loft, and even much of AT, although not always, for much the same prices.
    I guess it all really comes down to what the individual requires in terms of sizing and fit and prefers in terms of aesthetic. I will never purchase anything at JCrew, because nothing at JCrew will ever fit me correctly and I refuse to pay good money for lesser quality and poor fit. Although I have greatly admired their special occasion collection and their new wedding dress collection.
    Talbots is definitely skewing younger these days, because the young women (customers) of today will be the older women (customers) of tomorrow. I feel for the older generation who feels shoved out of the picture by Talbots' new direction, but in truth, the fits don't appear to have really changed that much. Just the overall aesthetic, and that happens with every brand from time to time. Of course long-time customers who love the old version will feel blindsided.
    I actually don't have a problem shopping in Talbots B&M stores next to women 10 or 20 years older than myself, even looking at the same items. Because I style what I wear to my own aesthetic. I don't depend on the retailer's styling. You can take the same blouse or sheath dress and style it differently for a 30-year-old professional working in a business casual environment and for a 50-year-old lady who lunches, and they'll both look fabulous and age-appropriate. And because Talbots' fits suit my body type I know what size to order online and can pretty sure that it will fit well. I also LOVE that just about every item Talbots offers is available across their sizing, rather than limiting what petites and womens' customers can wear.
    The only argument I've had with Talbots' fits lately, and my mother agrees, is that the length of the torso in their petite-sized dresses, particularly sheaths, is too long. I'm still willing to purchase and wear a petite dress from Talbots, because I love the styling and the prices are good, and hell—they actually come in petites. But I also don't feel that as a petite, I should have to get the torso length of a petite-proportioned garment ALTERED. Not sure why this problem exists. Although I'm a larger petite size, my torso is every bit as short as a smaller-sized petite's. That's my only argument with Talbots these days. And it's a small one.
    sorry for the long long post

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  77. I think Bianca's comment is one of the most insightful ones posted (she wrote about how as designers move and change companies, the look of the company changes too). I have worked for both J.Crew and Talbots in their NYC design headquarters, and have certainly found this to be true. J.Crew made a drastic change in "look" about 5 years ago when Mickey Drexler came on as CEO, similar to the change Talbots is going through now under Michael Smaldone. Both companies made strategic decisions to shed their former image (J-Crew: preppy, polar fleece and critters/ Talbots: grandma twinsets and frumpy suiting). So having been an insider to both companies design departments, I can say that this is less an issue of copying, and more an issue of changing with the times and creative leadership. Really cool to read these discussions, though. You are certainly some very smart and passionate ladies- ones J.Crew and Talbots would be lucky to have as customers.

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