Friday, December 5, 2014

J.Crew's Women's Collection Is Costing Millions

*eh, nice outfit?

"Thanks!" to Shopalot (in this post) who gave us a heads up about J.Crew's most recent earnings report. The following from Racked (click here to read in its entirety) sums up their current situation:
J.Crew's Suffering Women's Business Is Costing It Millions
by Erika Adams
December 5, 2014

After posting a dismal earnings report yesterday, J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler sat down with WWD to explain how the company went from a net income of $35.4 million to a reported loss of $607.8 million in the span of one year.

In particular, women's apparel and accessories sales have been hit hard. Drexler reasons that a widespread downturn in apparel sales across the industry was partially to blame, but he's not above accepting that the company's womenswear is doing terrible right now. "We've had a very tough year and I, along with the team, own this," Drexler says. "We saw a significant slowdown in our women's business. We own that even more. In that regard, we need to improve."

In the future, those improvements may include dipping into apparel categories that Drexler previously said the company wouldn't touch, like athleisure. In regard to that specifically, Drexler says: "We are constantly evaluating percentages and the investments we make by category." In other words, it's no longer off limits.

While J.Crew's women's business is suffering, Madewell posted a 32% revenue gain, J.Crew's men's business hasn't declined, and Drexler is confident in the inventory currently in stores as opposed to six months ago. While Drexler maintains that J.Crew is in a difficult position for now, he says that the women's sector has survived low sales in the past and will continue to do so. "I don't like it," Drexler says. "It's never any fun. When it seems worse, it usually gets better. That being said, we all have a job to do. We are going to fight the fight and do a better job." 
"Thanks!" to several JCAs (in this post), who came up some very insightful feedback on J.Crew's current situation. The ones that really resonated with me included the following:

JSR (in this post) mentions:
My list of what needs to be done at corporate:

1. CHANGE your women's head designer.
2. Bring colors back.
3. No drop shoulders.
4. The oversized coats..too many that are ill fitting.
5. Bring back prints.
6. Stop making poly shirts.
7. Make pretty dresses with interesting cuts and designs. Not the straight sack kind.
...
Blakemdjohns (in this post) mentions:
My thoughts are: (1) there's way too much inventory. Instead of doing 6 similar droopy, oversized sweaters, do *one* really nice fitting sweater and do it well; (2) Quality. People will pay for quality. No more synthetics, no more seams that fall apart. No more buttons that are cheap and crack and/or fall off; (3) Stop trying to do all. the. trends. Leave the trendy stuff to the fast fashion retailers. Zippers, and bedazzled everything is just silly. Going back to number one, if you're going to do trends, so *one* thing and do it right.  I don't know who is approving these designs, but there's so much ill, fitting and poor quality garbage. Bring back well-fitting, high-quality classic items in gorgeous colors and prints. (Also, going back to number one, you don't have to make *everything* in a print). 
Cousy (in this post) mentions:
...But here's the thing I find confusing. J Crew produced some really nice items this season that sold out lightning fast - the paisley shirtdress, the elephant parade shoes, the cocoon coat in the gorgeous blue color, the #2 pencil in heather chartreuse - and there are many more that I don't remember. So why aren't they taking cues from the things that are selling well (color, print, structure etc.)? The offerings of this fall seem almost willful in their defiance of what customers want to buy. Drab, cheap-looking, common. Every time I see the ugly glen plaid dress or the hideous houndstooth dress with the black side panels I want to have a stiff drink and go to bed. I never thought J Crew would stoop so low.

But maybe this is good news - have the horrendous sales numbers made them realize that they have hit bottom? I think Mickey and gang have it in them to recover and my fingers are crossed that they will.
Personally, I am not too surprised that there was a slowdown in women's apparel and accessories. Why? Take a good look at the sale section. The sale page is overflowing with items that are not moving, no matter what the additional percent off might be.

For many of the reasons listed above by fellow JCAs, I have found myself less and less excited with J.Crew's rollout of new arrivals. Yes, there is still a piece or two that catches my eye (hello Chateau Parka!) However, I use to be excited about the whole roll-out. While I am at it, I use to be excited about getting the catalog in the mail. Now, I don't care if I save it or not.

One of main issues I have this season is poor fit. Everything is boxy and over-sized. For example, I am going down two whole sizes for the Chateau Parka. Most of the online reviewers had to do the same. Why, oh why, is it so huge to begin with???

What do I think J.Crew needs to do:
  1. Get back to styling. Learn how to style the way you want your actual customers to wear it. Not the way your ultra-cool-Fashionista-industry-types (you know who I am talking about!) wear it. They can get away with "fashion forward" looks. The college graduate, corporate executive, and everything in-between can not get away with it in every day life. Lately, real life bloggers are rocking this better than J.Crew. Also, fire your current stylists. Really.
  2. Quality. Enough said, right? Make sure we don't have to dry clean a cotton tee shirt. For real.
  3. Fit. The items that stand the test of time are ones that look like they were tailored for the body. There is a reason the Bella is so well remembered. It is tailored and darted in a way to emphasize the benefits of a woman's body. 
  4. Colors. This use to be one of their strengths. Get back to offering rich hues. Plus, offer them during the right season. Where are all the reds, greens, and bright colors for the Holiday roll-out? 
  5. Prints. The cutesy prints are okay for a piece or two, but customers do not need any more of them. However stick to offering more classic prints and plaids that you know customers want (hello Black Watch plaid!)
  6. Pricing. Why not start with reasonable price point of x, instead of offering a higher price point of y with an additional 25-30% off promo. It just doesn't make sense and it turns customers off. (I just rather wait for it on sale, because I know it will go on sale.)

So I hope J.Crew takes to heart the feedback listed above and throughout the blog. I hope they can turn things around, because I do very much love them!

What are your thoughts on J.Crew's recent earnings? Do you find it suprising or not? What would you recommend J.Crew take action on (if anything)?

81 comments:

  1. So well said, Alexis! J Crew used to have a singular unique identity, and with it, a loyal group of followers. I don't need so many collaborations and third party vendors, because I can buy those items elsewhere. Also, this week made a purchase at both Tory Burch and at Brooks Brothers ( both reasonable promo/ sale items) and was shocked when I was told that the items were returnable. There is a 90 day window at Brooks Brothers! I have been so used to the no return policy at J Crew that I forgot how accommodating other stores were. I also remember when "covetable " meant that an item was worth saving for, because it would be in stores for more than 2 weeks before the next round of merchandise hit the shelves.

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    1. Yes, please get rid of final sale. It is so off-putting if I'm not able to try an item on in store that I don't even bother to experiment with ordering online anymore unless I am positive what size to order. Additionally, I completely echo Alexis with the forward fashion issue. The past few years I would always shop J.Crew over Madewell, but this year I have done the exact opposite because Madewell seems so much more accessible to me, both in terms of quality and style. I love J.Crew, but I know that I bought much less there this years than past years for all of the reasons mentioned above.

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    2. Echoing the Madewell shout-out. In the last 6 months, I have been buying more Madewell than Jcrew.

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    4. The inconsistent sizing has made the final sale even more annoying since even some items I was always the same size has shifted lately. I just don't think J Crew women's dept knows what they want to be anymore. I frequently see the words timeless, classic, etc. on items that I consider fast fashion {would rather buy at Forever 21}. My shopping has been down overall but I would be fine paying a higher price for something I see living {and surviving} in my wardrobe beyond this season. If I want something super trendy I will go elsewhere. That being said, I don't think J Crew can avoid the trends but they can integrate the concepts well on a quality item {or several} and not plaster them on every single offering. I think the men's dept has done well at this. Mickey doesn't need to look past the comments on this blog to see what's happening with his company.

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    5. I also don't think venturing into Athleisure is going to end well for J Crew, unless they partner with a known retailer. There is just too much competition out there right now from companies who do it well.

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  2. I second, third, and fourth the no dropped shoulders. I don't think they really look good on anyone.

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  3. How about feminine pieces? I'm sick of pieces with a tomboy twist. I'm a girl and I want to dress like one. I don't to hide my body in slouchy, sad sacks of oversized clothing.

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  4. My problem as of a few years now...is the fit. The huge armholes,too low waisted pants and shoes that do not warrant a $265 ish price tag. The shoes do not last....

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  5. The major point people are forgetting is the economy is playing an important part in these numbers. Cheaper stores are doing the best because that's all people can afford currently. People don't have confidence in the market and aren't spending. I love j crew clothing and want them to continue keeping the style modern and current, however they need to improve their quality. But if we want quality to improve, prices will go up. From what i read on this blog people are always complaining about the price point now and appear to be mostly sale shoppers. You're not going to get great quality and no synthetic materials for a cheaper price. Most high end designers are using synthetic materials- it's also a sign of the times. J crew's clothing is beautiful- what other store at this level is at new york fashion week. I love the dropped shoulders, love the oversized fit, love the exposed zipper details because that is what's currently in style. I don't want to wear outdated preppy clothing from the 80s. If i did, I'd shop at talbots. I'm in my 30s, in great shape, work in the corporate world and love fashion. These styles do work in my everyday life. Although I think the styling at j crew has been too plain and too boring; I would also like to see more color. J crew will be fine if the economy improves and people start spending again.I also think j crew needs to rebrand it's marketing strategy to appeal to younger generations. The customer that has been with j crew since the 80s is getting older. I still think at this price point- j crew does it the best.

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    1. Hmmm, this is making me think. Because if people aren't spending because of the economy, how come Madewell is reporting a profit, but Jcrew sales are down? I only bring up Madewell because it was mentioned in the article, and I also commented above how I am shopping much more at Madewell than Jcrew. And if other high end designers are also using synthetic materials, I wonder how their sales/profits are. I don't know the answer to this. Still, I love Jcrew and hope they'll figure things out soon!

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    2. I feel like J. Crew is focusing on their younger customers, or at least they are trying to. The trends you mentioned are what they are trying to lure the younger customers in with, but something about it isn't working. Maybe there just aren't enough of those customers to make it profitable, and their older customers (generalizing here) are not as interested in the dropped shoulders and zippers etc.

      They will fail if they focus on too young a customer, because those customers are shopping at H&M, Forever 21, and Old Navy. The price points at those stores match up with the youngest customers' disposable income; J. Crew doesn't.

      I'm in my 40s and what sets J. Crew basics apart from Lands End basics, Eddie Bauer basics, J. Jill basics, and Talbots basics is the fit. The pants from any of those places make me feel frumpy. J. Crew can (but does not always, especially of late) cut pants that make me feel modern and cool. Their Perfect Shirts were cut so well and made my shirts from anywhere else feel frumpy and boxy. I recently tried on my J. Crew shirts to see what to get rid of, and the Perfect Shirts all stood the test of time; I got rid of Boy Shirts because they weren't flattering. I don't consider J. Crew's pants and perfect shirts outdated preppy clothing from the 80s. That's what I like about J. Crew - they replaced the outdated preppy clothing from the 80s. But they've gone too far and need to course-correct and I think that's what the numbers are telling them.

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    3. Cate: Well said - I think you're exactly right, especially about taking classics giving them a modern cut.

      I really miss the J Crew of a few years ago.

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    4. Cate- let me clarify what I said. I said they needed to rebrand their marketing strategy to appeal to younger generations. j crews target market is between 25-40. The older customers don't want the zippers or dropped shoulders- well fashionable customers do. They're not concentrating on designing for the 40 plus crowd. They need to keep their brand and styles and marketing current. Clearly when I'm talking about outdated 80s clothing I wasn't referring to a plain basic pair of pants or a tee shirt, I was referring to the overall styling and trends. Although the cut, rise and style of pants change and become outdated too. But I agree they do need to keep their great basics! Their perfect shirts are incredible. No store in their price point is doing well-look at the market. These numbers reflect a bad economy. J crew definitely needs to work on their quality and styling, but their numbers would be fine if the economy was good. And trends constantly change- those dropped shoulders will be out of style soon. Then they'll be a new trend for you to hate- it's the nature of fashion. I don't like some of the trends each year either. You probably won't like Spring 2015 trends either, but stores are going to sell clothing that are current and in style.

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    5. I disagree that the economy is the problem. A better economy is not going to fix what ails J. Crew. What J. Crew is doing may be on trend, but it is not appealing to enough of its customers. The problem isn't the messaging. The problem is (IMO) that their product isn't very good right now. And I know you disagree and that I won't convince you, but I wanted to clarify my own remarks. If you read here a lot, you know I am not pining for the olden days of J. Crew. I like fresh and new styles. I just don't happen to like a lot of what's on trend right now. I bought an item from J. Crew with pointless zippers. I own their graphic tees with writing on them. I bought a few of their oversized items. But I don't need or want a lot of them. You get to a point when you know it's just a passing trend that doesn't look that great. Fun for now, but not a keeper. I don't want to spend my money on very much of that stuff.

      I think J. Crew itself jumped too hard on the fashion week trends and overestimated their mass appeal. I don't know what the Spring 2015 trends are, but J. Crew had better assess them carefully before they mass produce them or they will continue to have problems.

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    6. There is no data at all to support the notion that J. Crew's $600 million loss in a year's time is due to the economy. Rather, the company weathered the worst years of the economic downturn quite well.

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    7. ruffles- i don't think i said j crew's "entire" loss is due to the economy. I actually said, the economy is playing an important "part" in these numbers. There is no data to support this notion? look at the market and every retailer in their price point. People are still being cautious and not spending as much. The economy is effecting all retail. Most retailers are offering deep discounts to move merchandise. I also said i think j crew needs improvements like their quality, styling and adding more color. Also, cheaper stores like forever 21, zara and H&M are changing the way younger generations shop. Quality isn't a priority for them- they don't want to keep a coat or blazer for 5-10 years. I think there are many factors effecting j crew's numbers, but you have to include the economy and retail trends.

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  7. I don't mind the dropped shoulders and even some of the boxy cuts. I agree with the quality complaints (my 2007 J.Crew sweaters are still going strong). But, ultimately, I just think there is too much stuff. I am conditioned now to wait for 40% off before buying anything. Sometimes it takes me awhile to fall in love with some items, and I always know by the time I do, the next rollout will be there and what I have fallen for will be on deep discount. I also agree that the prints have really been lacking.

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    1. Agreed. I don't mind a few dropped shoulders (in fabrications that actually make sense and drape instead of sticking out) and boxy cuts, but do we really need THAT many of them?

      I seldom look at the new arrivals anymore because virtually everything will go on sale at some point, but there's so much stuff in the sale section that most of the I time I get bored with scrolling and wander off to do something else instead.

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    2. I totally agree on the whole "conditioned to wait for a massive discount" thing. I'm not sure I've EVER bought anything at full price from JCrew, and if they'd like me to start, they need to A) make clothing that actually lasts, and walks that fine line between trendy and still-wearable-three-years-from-now, and B) stop having constant sales, because why would I ever pay full price for something that's virtually guaranteed to be half-off (or more) three weeks from now?

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  8. Agree, agree, agree! The item I miss the most is the pretty skirt. I used to buy a pretty pencil skirt every season and I haven't in years. Now, the pretty prints are collection and I'm priced out.

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  9. I've been a loyal jcrew card holding addict for almost ten years. I've hardly bought anything in the past year. They are trying to be something the are not. They are not the Jcrew I fell in love with.
    http://www.lookfortheoccasion.com

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  10. Fire head of women's. Open 2008-2010 style guides. Study and apply what you see with a modern twist. Customers will return like myself.

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    1. Yes, my thoughts exactly. They need to understand why there were such a success earlier - modern classics. And their quality has declined.

      They hit it big, and then got too hip for their actual customers!

      And they think just adding leisure wear will save them? It seems they just don't get it.

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  11. This year I've been shopping exclusively from Ebay for older JCrew items. For the last 2 years I just can't follow the brand's trendy direction and crazy vanity sizing. I first started buying JCrew in 2009 and I wore a size 2 in their shirts then. Now in 2014 I wear their shirts in a size 00 or even 00P! I haven't lost weight or anything either. So sick and tired of seeing cropped pants and droopy tops. I'd love to see some tailoring come back to their designs. I know JCrew reads this blog, so please bring back the elements all of us Aficionadas have been missing for some time.

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  12. Good ideas. Yes: More color and prints: where is the lime green? bright orange? Among other things, I'd love to buy Minnies in more colors. How about schoolboy blazers in the same thick cotton as the No. 2 pencil skirts? Bring back the cute little cropped blazers (Astrid, I think). Winter scarves in prints.

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  13. There was also an article about this in the Wall Street Journal today....


    J. Crew Takes Half-Billion-Dollar Write-Down on Stores

    J. Crew translated retailing’s historic shift toward the Web into dollars and cents on Thursday, writing down the value of its stores by more than a half-billion dollars while leaving its online operations unscathed.

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/j-crew-swings-to-loss-on-write-downs-1417729989?KEYWORDS=jcrew

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  14. I am not surprised on earning results, but think may be not completely J Crew faults. Look at this season's trends, things like sweatpants, crop top, oversized coat and sweaters, these are not most flattering or easy style to begin with. When things don't look good on no matter how trendy they are I wont buy many, simple as that.

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  15. The economy is bad but there are a few mysterious things about J.Crew. I asked Customer Service about the cocoon coat in blue when it was first released. I don't think I ever saw one in my size, and I check the website more often than I care to admit. I recognize they make less Tall sizes, but I never saw it in my size. CS told me there would be more offered in late October. November came so I sent another email to CS. The response? They never planned to offer more in late October. Huh? Does anyone know what's going on? I also don't understand some of the collaborations. Why collaborate and just do another parka? Those surveys they ask you to fill out? Please end final sale especially on shoes. Please lengthen the mini skirts or at least offer a short mini and a long mini.
    I definitely think they need help in the dress department, and I used to look forward to seeing the Collection pieces, but not anymore.

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  16. Was in my usual store today, and the manager (who I know well) asked me for my honest opinion about the recent offerings. Apparently there was a conference call with Mickey and the managers of all the B&Ms, and they've been asked to solicit feedback from their regulars. Mine echoes a lot of what is posted above - return to the solid foundation that was built prior to 2011-ish. Dump the trends. Produce clothes with quality materials that actually cover and flatter a woman's body. Anyway, if you know the manager of your local store, you might consider offering your input to them, it sounds like Mickey is actively looking for feedback. Everyone at J. Crew is well aware that the brand is suffering right now.

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    1. I concur. Flattering fit is what is really lacking in the quest for some of these trailblazing fashions. Real women are not posing, they are walking, sitting, and moving. See through tees, bulky short skirts, and strangely narrow armholes accentuate the negative.

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  17. It's not "just" that they're using synthetics - there are a lot of technical fabrics at Theory, Tahari, Elie Tahari. The difference is in cut and quality.

    It's not "just" that stuff is made in China - much of the merch in the Lauren Ralph Lauren line is made there. The difference is in the detailed specs that are given to the factories and the checks and supervision to make sure the specs are adhered to.

    On a micro level, J.Crew can fix things with grace and speed - lost order, defective sweater, torn shirt. They need to look at what they're doing right, and scale it up.

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    2. I confess I don't like the 'technical fabrics' at Theory et al either. Those fabrics never look as good, even when made by better designers.

      I've actually bought a few Dolce & Gabbana skirts this fall ($$$!) because I wanted an actual wool skirt. (They did some really nice A line skirts this season).

      There is really an unmet market here now - people looking for well made modern classics at a reasonable price. And what is J Crew doing? Taking about yoga pants! Yikes, they just don't get it!

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    3. I don't like technical fabrics for anything other than actual exercise-wear. I've tried the trend but I keep reaching for the cottons, linens, wools/cashmeres. I don't mind some synthetic blend on an item if it's not a big part of it (I love what J Crew has done putting some stretch in denim), but the all-synthetic Turner pants and things like that I'm passing on because I know I won't reach for them.

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    4. for myself, I don't wear synthetics or blends. Period. However, if a manufacturer is going to offer them, at least let the merch be well-made, of a respectable quality, and well-fitted. The whole brand is being devalued by the across-the-board decline in quality.

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    6. I usually try to avoid synthetics--would not buy any of the current 100% poly offerings, for example. Every once in a while I'll be pleasantly surprised--for example, a couple of years ago I picked up the Factory plaid skimmer pants in a wool-viscose-lord-knows-what-else blend, and they have been fab. But it's unpredictable.

      Remember when they made a dress that claimed to be "wool with a little stretch" and when someone (Dani?) ordered it the blend turned out to be something like 55 poly 40 wool 5 lycra?

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    7. I disliked the icky feeling of those turner pants for the get-go.

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    8. If I had wanted cheap pants (like the turner) I would have went to forever 21 or H&M....

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  18. Does anyone have a theory as to why they would resist returning to modern classics?

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    1. Yes. They aren't as disposable and won't need to be replaced as often. J Crew doesn't want to be known as a poor quality brand, but if everything is great quality then who would need to keep buying more? It's a weird balance! They could keep it interesting with color and small variations in cut, I guess. But for example, I have black pants I like and don't have a need for more, so I can see why J. Crew is trying to keep introducing things I don't have, so I'll keep buying. But it's not working, for whatever reason.

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    2. @Cate, somehow they did manage to make small tweaks and changes to similar cuts and styles back when they were better and I still wanted to buy even if I had something similar from them. Not saying I'd keep buying the same thing over and over, but when I found a piece of theirs that worked, I'd pick it up the next season in a different color or fabric. Not now. Now I rarely buy the first "version". I won't be a broken record about why - all the same reasons that we're discussed over and over again recently.

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  19. They do need to replace the current stylists. They just don't have the flair that previous ones did. Quality of construction is my biggest beef (polyester, buttons falling off, piling of sweaters, and unlined wool pants). I don't mind a few dropped shoulders or cropped pants, but I certainly wouldn't make them a main feature in my wardrobe. The shoes tend to be over priced, IMO. But the biggey is that things go on sale shortly after they are released, so why pay full price? I never do. I never EVER buy anything full priced at J Crew. And sizing is a big problem too, you just can't depend on it from garment to garment, the fit is all over the place. If a person shops on line like I do, then it's tricky. The closest store for me is 2 hours away so I can't exactly drop in and try lots of things on. Besides, from what I'm reading, they don't even stock the stores with some of the most basic pieces!

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  20. We all know JC reads this blog. Though the JCAs probably aren't a fully representative sample of customers, we are a great type of focus group, and we all know what this group has been saying for a long time: quality classics with a twist.

    Case in point: the 2007 Bella jacket. No, I'm not saying they should make another jacket exactly like the Bella (though Factory offered something pretty similar this year). No, make a wardrobe staple that is wildly flattering, comes in a range of classic neutrals and pretty colors, appropriately mixes timeless features with fresh and memorable details, and has the quality to stand up to many years of wear.

    Where was this year's Bella? The Regent was a POS IMO. JC jackets are my wardrobe backbone--I like to pick up two or three each year. This year their jacket offerings have been miserable and my purchases have been 2007-08 JC jackets on eBay. Someone above mentioned that quality may obviate the need for new purchases, but we're human, we like novelty, and those of us with the leisure time and interest to frequent a fashion blog presumably have sufficient disposable income to indulge a taste for new things even if our old things are great.

    I remember a time when I was clicking "buy" on full-price new arrivals. (This was before I became a JCA and realized that as an adjunct professor I am eligible for the educator discount!) Now, between the quality problems and the rubber prices, I can't think of the last time I paid FP for something. Folks at JC need to ask themselves why we aren't clicking the mouse any longer.

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    1. hi....great comments. the regent blazer ...what does POS mean ? thanks. C

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    2. Piece of s***. In my office, we have an alternative term, BSP = big steaming pile.

      And no offense intended to those who liked the Regent. The one-button fit was horrible on me, and it looked like a wrinkled rag when I took it out of the box. No amount of steaming could get the wrinkles to fall out or the body to hang right.

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  21. Hopefully Mickey doesn't ruin J.Crew like he did Gap. Opening way too many stores, poor quality merchandise, high prices. I worked for Gap back in the day when Mickey was there and I watched the slow decline of Gap ... The last horrible holiday collection sealed his fate ... Uh those horrible satin party pants in multiple colors. This fall/winter season has been downright awful for women ... The vanity sizing (I know I'm really not an XXS), the unlined wool pants, the elastic waist pants (the turner) oh & I thought the gold Ludlow pants would be the ultimate holiday pants (wrong) they were the most ill fitting pants ever ... Cheap fabrics ... Every blouse and nice dress is polyester, what happened to the silk? Not to mention super slow shipping ... The last few orders I've placed have all been returned due to poor fit/fabric or the merchandise is already on sale and I can get it cheaper ... I don't buy anything full priced anymore ... Hopefully they can turn it around ... Lower the prices, increase quality fabrics, less inventory, better designs, stay away from the too trendy styles (leave that to H&M, Zara, & Forever21) ...

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    1. Agree, the Gap was very good back in the day, then went way down. Maybe Mickey isn't as great as people say!

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  22. I have been purchasing at Madewell a lot lately. I purchased the Excursuon vest and that's about it from j. Crew. I miss their gorgeous colors and patterns. The saturation of the colors too. Every retailer goes through a "phase" I believe!

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  23. Great suggestions in this post! Please bring back color jcrew and some cuter styles! Also agree with the too many long bulky coats. Women prefer fitted styles!

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  24. Please, JC bring back the two-button Schoolboy blazer or some variation. Plaids, herringbones, etc. A feminine, uber-versatile, wardrobe staple for my office job--I have every one sold over the last two seasons and haven't bought one Regent. The Regent is a DUD. Cheap, shapeless, uninspiring. Ug. ly.

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  25. I would say ramp up the quaility! Have had 4 to 5 items pill recently after the first wear, had at least two shirts sprout holes on first wear. Now I do always shop sales (single income household with a child) but had I paid full price for these items, I would have been even more disappointed. I stopped shopping Gap because of ill fitting items, sizing inconsistency and crappy fabric quaility. Sad it is now happening at JC too. Also please stop with the size -000000 models in all the catalogs. Some of us sadly don't have thigh gap and have had children and maybe are 6's, 8,s or 10's. Thank goodness for fashion bloggers on Instagram, I can now get an idea of how the clothing looks on women closer to my size or beyond.

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  26. Echoing what has been said about quality fabrics and feminine fits. Would also like to see them add more full length pants and long sleeved sweaters. Almost all my pants are cropped length and sweaters have bracelet sleeves. Sometimes in the middle of winter it would be nice to options that keep my body warm. For now I have taken my search elsewhere.

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    1. Totally agreed with JessF. What I wouldn't give for some full length, lined wool pants. I actually worked at a J.Crew from 1999-2001 and wow, what a difference the quality was then. My wool pants lasted 8 years and looked great that entire time. And I will never get over the cropped cashmere cardigan from holiday 1999 that I stupidly gave away - tiffany blue and the softest, thickest ever, and it never pilled! If I was trying to buy the same quality today it would be $450+ somewhere. I am seriously thinking of switching over to Everlane for a lot of my clothes. I like the transparency in pricing and it is certainly eye opening to see that they can make a decent cashmere sweater, mark it up for a good profit and it's still only $128, compared to $198+ for Jcrew. I remember the good old days (2005) when the cashmere tee was $80 and didn't pill. Ha! Quality, quality, quality. And I'll pay for it. That's what I want.

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    2. PANTS! This is what drove me to BR, Theory and others. No full length pants, even in the winter. It's crazy! Stuff that don't shrink after one washing or dry cleaning (I am side- eying my Moroccan scarf sweater). Buttons that don't crack, full length pants that are lined, sweaters that don't shrink or pile, non-trendy investment pieces. I don't think that's too much to ask for esp for the prices they want!

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  27. I agree with the most of the comments above. For me the thing that needs to be improved is the quality. Cashmere sweaters should not have holes after a few wearings. Leather pixie pants should not have a waist band that rolls over so much that a shirt can't be tucked in, tees should not be so sheer that a cami must be worn under the tee...I could go on, however, I think you get the point. In short, it's all about the quality. Thanks! :)

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  28. the expansion is Canada ( we are charged an average of 20-30% more than U.S) makes for J Crew being more over priced up here. What about the U.K ? How are sales over there ? Focus on what is selling...and please just STOP with all those t-shorts with words on them,sweatshirts and give us some long pants .
    P.S I think all my returns may have been the reason for it. the loss ...LOL

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  29. I feel like their head stylist after Marisa Webb left has taken their look straight from tomboy to androgyny

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  30. I reviewed the cabin sweater in this post. I have a irl pic of it next to an irl pic of last year's skier sweater. The difference in sweater structures is interesting.

    I agree w/all of the comments here and have some other thoughts that I hope I get around to sharing. Still formulating my thoughts.

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  31. I agree that they should get back to creating quality pieces, stick with the preppy theme (I miss the critter prints), and eliminate these boxy, dropped shoulder sweaters.

    This year's cocoon coat is very poor quality in comparison to last year's offering.

    What's going on with the shoe selection too? I see less styles in store and more "online only" styles.

    Heather
    Partial to Pink

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  32. I tried (ha!) to keep my thoughts concise. My wish list for JC:

    1. Edit the line. Who can tell the jeweled tee shirts, color blocked sweaters, or elastic-cuffed pants apart anymore? Hire somebody with a more critical eye than you’ve had in women’s for the past couple of years.
    2. Look at your best sellers. What’s different about these from the rest of the collection? Do more of that.
    3. Look at your final sale section. Sort by “New to Sale” and see what’s been hanging out there at the bottom forever. What’s different about these items? Do less of that. (And while you’re doing that, send those pieces off to TJMaxx and be done with it. They’re cluttering up the rest of your sale section.)
    4. Listen to the feedback that customers are giving you. Yes, there are negative reviews here and there, but if half of those that reviewed the puffer coats say they smell like a wet dog, take one off the rack and inhale.
    5. Take what’s left in the collection after 1-4, and bring the quality back that customers are expecting based on past JC experience. Reinforce seams and buttons, line pants and skirts, test knits for opacity, use leather linings and soles on the shoes.
    6. f you’re going to do trends, try them on a few pieces, and do them well. Otherwise it looks like you’re just masquerading poor design and construction as “of-the-moment". Exposed industrial zippers and dropped shoulders have got to be cheaper than hidden zippers and tailoring, right?
    7. Check and double-check items for fit. If the boxy cut doesn’t look good on your (very slim) model, it’s probably not going to flatter most of your customers.
    8. Similar to #7, beef up your QA. Now that you’re offering online reviews, if the item is poor it will get called out. Look at the reviews of the Dix boots (a9773) - four out of four people said that they couldn’t get them on. Did anybody try these before they were produced? Is nobody looking at the finished product before they’re blasted out to stores, or is the cycle of new arrivals just happening so quickly that QA has fallen by the wayside?
    9. Rethink Factory’s purpose. Are retail customers going to continue to buy there if a (often better done) clone is going to show up at Factory in 6 months?
    10. Figure out what gave you that great balance in the past - the ‘classic with a twist’, if you will - and find a way to bring that back. In the meantime, other retailers are putting out items that are more JC-esque than you’ve been in the past year.

    JC - I understand that you’re in the business of making money, and it’s better to have customers frequently buying. However, you’ve got customers in a constant price adjustment/return/rebuy cycle because they don’t feel that your prices are fair to begin with for the quality. In the 6.5 years I’ve been reading and posting on JCA, the number of reports of PA requests seems to be higher than previous years. Five years ago, the sales were fewer and farther between, and JCA’s didn’t seem to be complaining as much about the price discrepancies between B&M and .com, or the item getting marked down again the day after they bought it. If it seems like JCA’s want to pay as little as possible for the clothes, perhaps it’s a reflection of what they feel the clothes are worth. On the flip side, you’ve got people paying for other’s USED clothes off of eBay from years ago… that’s money that would be going to JC if the quality, design and construction were there.

    With some of the problems that have been reported (either here or online reviews) people that paid FP must really be disappointed! If the items were of good quality, I wouldn’t have a problem with the opening price on most of the items. It’s the increasing price and the decreasing quality that irritates. If the excuse is that everybody else in the industry is doing it too, then remember that you gained success and a following from NOT doing what everybody else in the industry was doing. I think that WFF said it best upthread, “Look at what you’re doing right, and scale it up”.

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    1. I agree, well worded. Thanks silver_lining.

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    2. Alexis and silver_lining, and all the other JCAs in this thread, brilliant points. I really, really hope J. Crew listens to the million dollars' worth of free consumer research they have here.

      As someone mentioned above, I was also asked by my regular SAs this weekend for feedback on the current offerings. They know my purchases have dwindled to practically zero lately. I actually said pretty much everything silver_lining said. Based on Mickey's comments and the forced enthusiasm I've been seeing in my B&M SAs with rollout after dismal rollout this year, the dawn seems to be breaking and they are getting it - they bet on the wrong horse.

      Trendy, disposable garments increase, sales and profits decrease. A LOT.

      A $600+ million write-off in one year is not sustainable, a new low. There are just TOO FEW customers who want and who are buying the "new" J. Crew's "on trend" offerings, at any price. I think they will be forced by their board and investors to make adjustments now. I'm rooting for them.


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    3. Well thought out, silver lining, and thanks!

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    4. Well said, Silver Lining, and to everyone else who gave their input.

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    5. I agree, silver_lining...very well said.

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  33. Sad to see this happening to my favorite store and its team of really nice people, but if this is what it takes for them to make drastic changes, then it must happen. I agree with most of the comments, particularly with the need to change the design direction. Granted, the economic environment is challenging but there are a number of retailers who reported higher net income for the period (GAP, Anthro, H&M, Zara, etc). It's not even a slow-down of profits, it was a reversal from an income of a couple of millions to a loss of hundreds of millions. Ouch!

    In its need to stay current and attract newer markets, Jcrew neglected its core market with disastrous results. The newer markets don't have the purchasing power to drive the profits as what we're seeing now. After they started showing at Fashion Week, I felt that there was this pressure to make a statement and be part of the trends. Unfortunately, the fashion arbiters don't drive their business, it's us. I am 40+ but there seems to be a mistaken notion that we want frumpy fashion back. How about well-made, more enduring designs that will last a couple seasons? It is not true that classics don't sell as much. If you monitor the items that sell-out, these are the more classic designs that Jcrew is known for. If something really works, I actually buy multiples in different colors and even the same color for back-up (patch pocket skirt in stretch wool and Cece, I'm looking at you). I've been wearing my lined wool black city-fit pants circa 2007 and it has held up really well through countless dry-cleaning. If I knew lined wool pants will disappear, I should have bought more.

    I know there has been rumblings about the styling but it is difficult to style these current one-note designs. How can one really present these oversized, shapeless designs in a flattering manner? I used to collect their catalogues but now the style guides go straight to recycling. I gave up this season when in one of the months, the cover had no clothes at all but written words. Are they trying to be clever and different? It just looked forced and trying too hard to me. On a positive note, Mickey seems to realize there is a big problem and is owning it. Good luck Mickey, we're waiting and cheering you on.

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    1. Marie, very articulate, thank you. I do feel bad for the SAs at my local stores, I used to be a regular and now don't even go in. They too are really struggling to compliment the new arrivals. I know I am not chasing trends (believe me some of them I am seeing for the 3rd or 4th time) and maybe not J Crew target market, at 59 and 5'1''. But I am also not ready to cut up my J Crew card. At this point I know what I like, what works for me and i get many compliments on my J Crew clothes. I too hope Mickey and team can get back on track and I will remain a loyal customer.

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  34. A comment about fit: I notice on the mannequins, they typically pin the garments to they have a more fitted look. If that's how the clothes look best, why not make them that way in the first place?

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    1. I have been noticing that a lot too, used to be they did that because the smaller sizes had sold out. Now it is just normal styling in stores.

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  35. I hope J.Crew will actually utilize all of this excellent input and feedback from JCAs to make some positive changes in the women's line. I also think that one of the aspects missing the most over the past several years are the truly unique pieces that J.Crew used to offer. The Bella, the Maggie, the special dresses and skirts in longer lengths, etc. As of late, the clothing all looks similar to other stores where you can buy for much less $$$, and get about the same quality, too.

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  36. A thought just occurred to me and I'm not sure how much it plays into JC's current women's clothing debacle. I feel like society as a whole has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. There are so many more people working from home now that don't need to get dressed up for the office. And even for those that do go to an office, things have gotten so much more casual. And that goes double for when we're not at work. I've become a sahm after working part-time in a professional career for years. No one dresses up anymore. Granted, I'm in a smaller, less fashion forward city, but I do feel it applies in general in most places. I went to a lovely holiday tea with my mom and daughter the other day. It's a special event at a very nice hotel. People were wearing jeans!!! I thought that was terrible, and I would never go out like that, but that's the way things seem to be trending, like it or not. In my day to day life, I'm guilty of dressing super casual. There's way more Lulu in my wardrobe than JC these days. I think JC is maybe a little too focused on dressier options that just don't seem to fit into what a lot of people are wearing anymore. I myself have bought a lot more from Madewell, b/c I think their clothes have a more casual feel. Like I said, I'm not working and I know I'm in the minority here, but even for the working world, it just seems to me we're headed in a different direction, so I understand why they're considering heading more into leisure type clothing, although I prefer "athletic" to leisure.

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    1. And for the clothing they're currently making, unfortunately, as we've all agreed it's not flattering, well made, or properly priced, so if that's how they do more casual clothing going forward, that won't help them. I hope they can figure it out!

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  37. I am 5'8'', just on the brink of tall clothing. I am pear-shaped, a size 6-8 on top and usually a 10-12 on the bottom. I feel like 99% of JCrew clothes are just not made for someone with my body type. I have an actual waist, but most of JCrew's clothes are so boxy and shapeless! Even the Perfect Shirts, with a more feminine cut than the Boy Shirts, are not cut for me. Same thing with the Schoolboy blazer - too boxy! I feel like the fit model for JCrew is probably about five feet tall, size 00, with a straight figure. Then they take that and just make it bigger! It just doesn't work. I would like JCrew to make clothes for women with different body types.

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  38. I actually Googled "Jcrew quality" because, after looking at their styles online tonight (because I was bored), I thought, "Is it just me?" I've been a loyal Jcrew customer for 10 years and have witnessed a downturn in quality and wearability. The last straw was when I spent $600 on about 4 pieces last fall, and every single one of them had to be mended after the first few wearings. That's not a coincidence, right? When winter came around, I skipped Jcrew altogether and bought my winter pieces from Wrap London and the Gap. At least if Gap clothes have to be mended after a few wearings, I won't feel so bad because they didn't cost so much. That's my complaint about quality. Now to styling. I have one word for that: meh. Some clothes are not offered in what would seem to be the most obvious/ most versatile colors (navy, cream or khaki, black) except for gray; many pieces have an odd cut or strange pattern or weird detail that gives one go, "Not sure I can see myself wearing that in two years. At $168, I'll definitely pass." In sum, Jcrew has lost touch with its base: working women like me who need practical yet stylish clothes that can be worn with confidence year after year after year. (Remember those roundish-toed, 3 1/2" heeled pumps that came in yummy colors a few seasons back? I want THAT Jcrew!) On the other hand, I've saved a TON of money by passing on so many items since 2013...

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