All of us, or at least most of us, are die hard, dyed in the wool, J.Crew addicts. But do any of us wear only J.Crew each and everyday? While 'crew makes up better than 70% of what I wear it's not the only thing I buy."Thanks!" again to J.Crew Guy In Canada for his take on J.Crew!
From my perspective the main rival to J.crew is BR. Yeah I can only imagine the sounds you're making now. Air sucked in through clenched teeth, shock and amazement. Settle down now, sure J.Crew tends to be slightly more stylish and fashion forward, but BR has to be doing something right considering they are roughly three times the size of J.Crew. So here's my take on some of similar items offered by both and how they stack up. And all of this is regarding in house items and none of the second party goods sold by either company.
Merino sweaters are a staple for me, v-neck, crew neck, full zip and even half zip. Both BR and 'crew make them. Who does it better? This one is close, but there are certain advantages that J.Crew has. BR uses too many blends with poly or arylic while calling them extra fine merino. BR also thinks I have arms like Grover. J.Crew wins here for 100% merino and getting the sleeve length right. Both do great colours. Crew has more form fitting cuts and is slightly more classic. BR does mix it up a little with some pattern and trim, but in the end round one goes to J.Crew.
Tailored dress pants are another item that I wear each and every week to work. J.Crew has the famous Ludlow and Bowery, both favorites of mine. BR has the Monogram, Heritage and tailored options. I do prefer what Frank and the team at J.crew produce, but BR is getting dangerously close to J.Crew with their current offereings. Factor in the almost constant state of sales and discounts being offered by BR J.Crew's edge is basically shot. The one area BR is off on is the inseem length. I regularly order pants longer from BR to compensate for the varying inseem length. Crew always fits me perfectly in leg length. But when I can get a pair of pants from BR that retail for $240 on sale for $99 then with an additional discount of 30 or 40% off the J.Crew advantage is gone considering they rarely see the sale rack. Ludlow is my favorite, but I can be bought and the prices from BR are getting me.
Ties, go with the dress pants, no contest, J.Crew all the way. Made in the U.S. and competitive prices make these a no-brainer. BR does make some nice ones, but made in China and varying widths and similar prices to J.Crew make this another win for Mickey and company.
Dress shirts, J.Crew has the washed favorite and it's various brothers while BR does both standard fit and a tailored one. J.Crew favours the button down and I have roughly twenty some to prove it. Fabrics are always cotton. They do some variety in pattern and fabric weight but nothing like BR. Cotton, cotton with stretch and then some. BR does a wide range of collars and cuffs and patterns. But there's something about J.Crew that I prefer. I do love me a shirt with stretch and BR makes some good ones, but J.Crew just seems to suit and fit me better. And then there's that corporate thing BR does. They just seem more business than J.Crew. I'd like to call this one a draw but according to my closet it's J.crew all the way.
So what about you? I know I've only covered the men's side so you need to dish on the women's items. Does J.Crew trump the offereings from BR? Who does it better?
Personally, I find it hard to substitute J.Crew's offerings with other retailers. Even though I might complain about the prices, or the quality at J.Crew, they really do offer the best items (in terms of style and fit) for me. I rarely purchase items from the Gap, BR, Anthropologie, Lands End Canvas, and Fossil now.
With all that said, if I had to pick a category where J.Crew needs to catch up... it would be perfect tees. I have tees from the Gap that can withstand washing after washing without holes or unraveling. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for J.Crew's tees. I have to treat them very carefully, which kind of defeats the point of tees (that they are casual and easy to care for).
What are your thoughts on this post? Do you have any pieces that you think another retailer does better? If so, please share with us your take. :)