Sunday, August 31, 2008

Crewcuts Collection: Is It For Your Kids?

"Thanks!" to Anonymous at 10:28 AM (in the "J.Crew Email: Just In... Crewcuts New Fall Styles" post) who let us know that J.Crew Crewcuts has its own Collection of high (read as "really high") priced items.

Even though there is a Men's and Women's Collection, I am surprised that J.Crew is offering the Crewcuts version. I just didn't think there was a market for high priced children clothes among J.Crew's customers. (Although I know there is a market for high priced children's clothes- as lots of celebrities like Kate Holmes and Posh Spice outfit their cute children in). My reasoning is: since children grow so quickly, a J.Crew customer may not think it is worth spending the $348 on the Girls' houndstooth Prunella coat (Item 97016), $328 on the Girls' Striped-silk pouf skirt (Item 95160), or $385 on the Boys' cashmere cable cardigan (Item 97096). :)

What do you think of the Crewcuts' Collection? Would you consider purchasing from the Collection for your kids? Do you own any Crewcuts Collection pieces?

Love It Or Leave It: J.Crew Opera Gloves

Solid Leather Opera Gloves
Click here for product page
Item 98621
Regular: $130.00

Oh my! How formal of J.Crew to offer a gorgeous pair of opera gloves. I am loving the colors (fresh mint, black, dark cloud) and the buttons along the side. However, the description could use some work as it is a bit bland: "Opera-length leather gloves. Leather-covered button detail on wrist. Unlined. Import." Every time I read it, I think of Seinfeld's Elaine (who worked for the J.Peterman catalog,) who could write something a bit more captivating. ;)

Now this is one of those items that I absolutely adore in concept, but will not purchase. Besides the price being expensive for me (but acceptable for high quality leather gloves), it is also an item that I will probably never wear. There are not a lot of occasions that call for me to wear opera length gloves. ;)

What are your thoughts on the gloves? Do you "love it" or would you "leave it"? If you do "love it", do you think you will order a pair of these gloves? And if you already have, please let us know what you think! :)

P.S. As shown in the image above, there is a green version of these gloves. Yet this color is not offered online. Do you think the green pair will be offered later this season?

A Look At J.Crew's Head Designer Todd Synder

As mentioned previously (refer to the "J.Crew's Snyder and Lyons: Fashion's Most Powerful " post), Todd Synder is a head designer over at J.Crew. There is a great article published at the Iowa State Daily newspaper that talks about some of Snyder's inspirations. The following is a portion of the article.

J. Crew designer, ISU alumnus says roots have helped his career: Designer finds ideas from movies, music and everyday things
By Paul Nemeth
November 18, 2005

The movie starts. The audience is entertained as it watches Paul Newman on the screen, but, unlike most audience members, Todd Snyder is collecting ideas for future designs. Snyder, vice president of men's design for J. Crew, says he is inspired by many things, including several classic movie stars such as Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.
"They weren't cutting-edge fashion, but they were real," Snyder says. "They were guys that had a rugged sensibility. They also had a cleaned-up way about them."

Many times, movies, music and young people help contribute to Snyder's ideas. He says he is always collecting ideas from pop culture and, sometimes, from things as simple as seeing somebody on the subway. His designs comprise many of these elements.
"In design, you kind of pull from all those things," Snyder says. "Things that are unique can come from music or come from architecture. They can come from books, magazines or traveling the world. Just simple things like seeing people at the bar. It all of a sudden gets your creative juices flowing. It's all about finding a different point of view."

...Snyder's fashion sense is constantly being updated with the seasons the world of fashion goes through, and he says the younger generation helps him keep up with the times. He says he hopes to inspire that generation the way it inspires him. He says a good eye for trendiness also helps. "I am able to get a pulse of what can make it here and know when something's really cool," Snyder says. "You start seeing kids around here wearing it, and that's when you know you've done something big."

...Snyder has noticed the quality has gone downhill. He says he is sick of people complaining about how the United States doesn't have any good clothing. When people want things cheaper, clothing industries are going to use lower-quality goods, Snyder says. Snyder has worked hard at J. Crew trying to increase the quality of the clothing industry.
"We want people to feel like they can buy something and wear it this year, but also two or three years from now," Snyder says. "It's really an investment."

First, I always enjoying reading about the designers over at J.Crew. Second, I think it is great that Synder gets inspiration from everyday life like movies and actor Paul Newman. (Mr. Synder, may I suggest watching AMC's Mad Men as another source of inspiration? I swear you will just love the show and the great clothes!)

What do you think of the article? Do you agree that J.Crew has been offering items that are not just something you will wear for a few years, but a real investment?

Interesting Article To Read This Sunday

A big "thanks!" to J.Crew Guy in Canada who shared with us an interesting article from Details Magazine about men and shopping (click here for the article in its entirety):

Compulsive Shopping Isn’t Just for Girls: For some guys, the go-to reward after a hard day isn’t whiskey—it’s Gucci.

...A couple of decades ago, the stereotypical man of the house unwound from a hard day by watching a game with a glass of something on ice. His wife? She went shopping. But whether it’s because ads for moisturizer now target men or because stores have started serving them snifters of brandy while they get fitted for shirts, guys are rewarding themselves in a way they never used to: by taking out their credit cards.

A recent study of men’s buying habits done by WSL Strategic Retail found that guys in their twenties and early thirties visit a greater variety of stores than older men do. “They tend to shop more like women,” says Wendy Liebmann, WSL’s founder and president.

...David Lewis, head of neuroscience for Mind Lab International in England, calls the male desire to pamper oneself with purchased goods “a kind of consumer masturbation.” For a study in 2006, Dr. Lewis took 20 guys, ages 18 to 25, to a high-end lingerie shop and then to a sporting-goods store. When he asked them which experience they liked better, he says, “a number of men said, ‘That sex shop was really exciting.’ In fact, their brain activity was much greater when they were looking at sneakers.”...

Frankly, I can't blame men for engaging in "emotional-shopping" or "retail therapy" when I have been know to do it myself. ;) I often look forward to trips at my local J.Crew so I can relax. It may sound silly, but J.Crew can be a bit of an oasis for me.

What do you think of the article? Disagree or agree with any points made? Do you find J.Crew retail stores as an oasis as well? Have you engaged in J.Crew retail therapy?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

J.Crew Email: Just In... Crewcuts New Fall Styles

J.Crew sent an email announcing new Crewcuts style in their stores and online. Seriously, how cute are those kids in that picture!?! Especially that couple to the right smooching and laughing- just adorable!!!

There is also a limited promotion that offers 20% off your entire in-store purchase if you apply for a J.Crew Credit Card. Normally, customers receive 10% off the first purchase when opening a J.Crew Credit Card. (Click here to see J.Crew's "perks" of being a credit card member.) This offer expires 9/1/08.

Are you going to take advantage of the limited-time-20%-off-credit-card offer? Are you planning to stop by a Crewcuts to see what new styles they have? Would you like some of the Crewcuts offerings to come in "adult" size as well (I know I do!)?

J.Crew Answers: Student Discount to New Stores

I contacted J.Crew a few days ago to inquire about the student discount (refer to the "Just Asking: What Is The Student Discount?" post) and the location of the new 42 stores they are going to open in the next year (refer to the "J.Crew Investors: Conference Call Transcript" post). The following are the responses that I thought would be interesting to share:

On the student discount (which is 15%):
I was originally told: "The good news is that it has been updated now to reflect the 15% student discount that we offer. You will have to shop in the store or over the phone to get the discount as it is not an Internet offer."

But a follow up email stated:"We also wanted to modify the reply to your previous query. We notice you were told that online orders are not eligible for the student discount. While it is true there is no way to automatically qualify for the discount on the website, if you send us an email from your .edu address with your order number, we will be more than happy to credit your 15%."

On the new store locations:
"Thanks for your interest in our new Retail Stores! We do not have this information at hand at the moment, but will do some further research to find out locations and dates. We will let you know as soon as we hear more."

The J.Crew CSR also wanted to share the following:
"Please share with your community that we are working diligently to finish ironing out the wrinkles in our new systems, and everyone's patience and loyalty are greatly appreciated by all of us at J Crew."

I must say that I appreciate the thoughtful response. I can't wait to find out the new store locations and their expected opening dates. I will definitely post that once J.Crew sends that information. :) I am also happy to hear that they are working on the system upgrade (but I am now just waiting for the day that the upgarde is "done"). :)

Are you excited about J.Crew opening so many new stores? Do you think that some new stores will be located in Canada (which I am really hoping for too!)? Have you been using the student discount on online orders already (or are you planning to now)?

J.Crew's Jenna Lyons Picks

Jenna Lyons, J.Crew's Creative Director, has selected a few items that are the "have to haves and other fall favorites." They are:
  1. Wood-acorn charm bracelet (Item 98342, $85.00)
  2. Watercolor garden lydia blouse (Item 97750, $110.00)
  3. Satin fleur clutch (Item 97736, $98.00) &
    Serengeti midheels (Item 94408, $175.00)
  4. Featherweight merino glass-button cardigan (Item 96033, $88.00) &
    Abstract rose-print dress (Item 96517, $165.00)
  5. Donegal tweed école jacket (Item 97471, $198.00) &
    Faux-topaz star pin (Item 10377, $65.00)
  6. Skinny patent-leather belt (Item 98093, $35.00)
  7. Personal Shopper (link)
  8. Wool-cashmere plaza coat (Item 96914, $325.00) &
    Fontaine dress (Item 96056, $650.00)
I have to say that I do love some of the items she picked out like the Donegal tweed jacket. (In all fairness, I do love most of J.Crew's jackets. Except that Tortoise sequin jacket for $3,000.00 - because that jacket is absurd.) However there are other items that I don't necessarily think are "must haves" for this season like the yellow belt. And the pin, don't get me started (refer to "J.Crew Pins: A Tad Overpriced" post).

What do you think of Jenna's picks? What items do you agree are the "have to haves" and which ones do you disagree with? Which items do you think should have made the list?

Friday, August 29, 2008

J.Crew Prices: Sale Versus Promotion

"Thanks!" to Anonymous at 9:39 AM (a J.Crew Employee) in the "Seek & Find: Will you visit J.Crew this Weekend?" post who shared with us the following defining what is a "sale price" and "promotional price" at J.Crew stores:

hi all. I just wanted to clear up a common point of confusion regarding sale items vs. Promotional items. Customers always confuse these two, and rightly so! An item on promotion is temporarily marked down, whereas a sale item is permanently marked down. The way you can tell the difference at J. Crew is that the prices on sale items end in 99 cents, whereas promo prices end usually in 00 or 50. Also, promo prices are not combined with any of the additional percentages taken off sale items, as technically, they are not on sale. I know the website puts promo prices in the sale section, or at least they used to. I don't know why but I know it is confusing! So if you go this weekend, know that the cords that are currently $69.50 will not be 40% off. You might know this already, but I know our store has had a lot of inquiries about this lately and I thought it might help. There are lots of great promos AND sales going on right now, so come check them out!

First, I always thrilled to hear from a J.Crew employee. Second, I appreciate the clarification between the promotional and sale price since I was confused about the difference (in terms of applying the "additional percent off"). Especially since's final sale section does display some promotional sale items, which made me think there was no difference between the two. For example, the Chino Cooper jacket (Item 96789; was $98.00 now $78.00) is in the final sale section (under "blazers") online but has a promotional price (since it ends in $.00).

What are your thoughts on "promotional" versus "sale" prices? Do you think J.Crew makes it clear (either in their stores or online) that there is a difference between the two price types, in terms of what additional promotions it can be applied with?

J.Crew's Snyder and Lyons: Fashion's Most Powerful

A big "thanks!" goes to Jenn_Brak who shared with us the following great piece from the NY Daily News (click here for link):
Fashion's 50 most powerful: No. 50

TODD SNYDER and JENNA LYONS MAZEAU, head designers, J. Crew
This duo runs the design teams at the reenergized retailer. Snyder and Lyons Mazeau have been instrumental in developing J. Crew’s fashion-preppie look, a fizzy mix of Ralph Lauren and H&M, as well as widening its reach into Crewcuts for kids, weddings and the luxe line known as the J. Crew Collection.
Here is another interesting article from Time's Style & Design about Synder & Lyons (click here for link):
Todd Snyder & Jenna Lyons
Both 37, VP of Men's Design and Senior VP of Women's Design, JCrew

By Betsy Kroll

Fall 2005

Following what can kindly be described as a late-'90s slump—brought on by management shifts and designs that were too trendy

The label owes its resurgence in no small part to Todd Snyder and Jenna Lyons, vice president of men's design and senior vice president of women's design, respectively. Snyder, a boyish preppy, was nicknamed J. Crew at Iowa State University. Lyons, a statuesque blond, graduated from Parsons School of Design. Both joined J. Crew out of school, and while Lyons has stayed for the duration, Snyder has moved around—one stint was at Ralph Lauren—only to return two years ago.

Part of what pulled him back was the management team of CEO Mickey Drexler and president Jeff Pfeifle, installed in 2003. Snyder says the two have "really breathed life into [the company] again."

Lyons agrees, attributing the brand's current popularity to an emphasis on design over the bottom line. Now she and Snyder are expanding J. Crew's offerings, adding to the classic and affordable staples a seemingly effortless mix of luxury pieces. "We're doing high and low end," says Lyons. Indeed, customers may be surprised to find $2,500 cashmere coats next to the $49 chinos.

The duo are also developing new categories. Last spring they introduced a phenomenally successful wedding collection, and this winter the company will debut tuxedos and skiwear.

Reclaiming J. Crew's turf has been rewarding, but Lyons is excited about new challenges. "I'm looking forward to the day when people say, 'Oh, my God, I have to go to J. Crew,'" she says.
How exciting to see some members of J.Crew's design team as Fashion's most powerful! I also think that Todd Snyder and Jenna Lyons are gorgeous- they could easily be models in the next J.Crew catalog! ;) I also had to highlight that quote from Lyons about having to go to J.Crew... because I do think that all the time!!!

What are your thoughts on Todd Snyder and Jenna Lyons being named as Fashion's Most Powerful? Have you liked (or disliked) some of their decisions over styles and direction for J.Crew over the years?

Seek & Find: Will you visit J.Crew this Weekend?

This is the weekly "sale watch" post, to help each other find sale items at our various local J.Crew stores. ;)

If you are stopping by a J.Crew store this weekend (to take advantage of the "additional 40% off" on the new sale items or to see the additional Fall arrivals), maybe you might be willing to share that with us in this post. In particular, if you could share with us a few of the sale items that are available, at what prices, and potential sizes the store is carrying (as well as the store location)- that would be fantastic! Thanks in advance!!! :)

P.S. I noticed that many of you have already been reporting sale items (and in which stores) in other posts, which by the way "thank you!" :) I really love how helpful we are for each other!

Darlings, is it time for a J.Crew coupon code?

Yes, it is that wonderful time again! :)

J.Crew is offering free shipping on orders of $100+ with promo code SCHOOLBUS. This offer expires 9/4/08.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

J.Crew Grand Opening In Reston, VA

A big "thanks!" to Kater who let us know about a recent email J.Crew sent announcing a new store opening. On Tuesday, September 9th, J.Crew will open a new store in Reston, VA.

I believe a coupon of some sort will be mailed (either snail mail or email) to the area's local residents in the next two weeks (as J.Crew does with most store openings and re-openings). Congrats to the local residents of Reston, VA!!! :)

J.Crew Sale. New styles. In-stores and online.

"Thanks!" to Hexicon and Kathy T. who shared with us J.Crew's latest email announcing new styles to the final sale (online and in-stores).

With this announcement and some stores carrying the additional 40% off final sale (refer to the "J.Crew Stores: 40% Off Final Sale Is Back {fabulous!}" post,) it looks like I will be heading out to a local J.Crew this weekend. ;)

Are you excited about the additional styles to the final sale? Are you planning a visit to your local store? Do you think the online "final sale" (where all sales are final) is going to be permanent from now on?

Off On A Tangent: Two Offers from Banana Republic

A big "thanks!" to Blumre and Laura1 (in the "Love It Or Leave It: Crystal-lollipop Satin Flats" post) who let us know that Banana Republic is offering 15% off any purchase of $125+ with promo code LABORDAY. The offer expirs 9/2/08. Click here to print out the email (which a store associate needs) to take advantage of this offer in stores.

P.S. In the fine print, it reads "Online code limited to one time use only." Something to keep in mind when ordering. :)

Also, "thanks!" to Kristin who shared with us another offer that Banana Republic is offering $30 off any in-store purchase of $100+. This offer expires 9/7/08. Click here to print out the email (which a store associate needs) to take advantage of this offer in stores.

Love It Or Leave It: Crystal-lollipop Satin Flats

Crystal-lollipop satin flats
Click here for product page
Item 96599
Regular: $258.00

Uh... I don't know where to begin with this flat. I am a bit confused: what is that thing on the flat? Let me refer to the description on their site: "Simply irresistible, with an elegant toe and a quirky crystal ornament our designers call a "lollipop." (No one knows why, but everyone loves it.)"

Okay- I am going to have to disagree on that "simply irresistible" comment. I love flats (and I mean love too!) I think I wear J.Crew flats about 90% of the time. However, I can't say that I am lovin' this pair. :)

Also, that "quirky" ornament they call "lollipop" looks "off" to me. I can't quite narrow down the reason for my dislike of the "lollipop" either. Because up close, I like the sparkly crystal detail on the lollipop. Perhaps it is the shape that I find odd? (Maybe if the shape was a nice bow, I would like it more?)

What do you think of the Crystal-lollipop Satin Flats? Do you "love it" or would you "leave it"? If you do "love it", do you think you will order a pair of these flats?

Dear FFM: Help Put Together A J.Crew Outfit For Me

FabulousFloridaMommy (FFM) has been a wonderful asset to this blog. I said it before and I will say it again, we are lucky to have her! She has been fantastic: offering insights to sharing advice. Lately, I have noticed that many of you have been seeking her out for outfit advice. (I completely understand why too- she has a great eye for creating outfits!)

As a result, I have asked FFM to guest blog about outfits she creates with items that you, the members, request!

So how does this work? This first post is to find out what items from J.Crew (that you either own or are thinking about getting) that you would like outfit ideas on. (In addition to the items you want to see outfits for, feel free to include additional information like: the climate/season you want to wear the item/outfit (a Fall outfit in NYC might look different than a Fall outfit in Hawaii), as well as age bracket/lifestyle (because an item used in an outfit for a college student may look different than an outfit for a tenured professor). :) After a day or two, FFM will select a few items (from the feedback) to focus on and create a couple of Polyvore outfits with those items (which will then be posted for all).

What J.Crew pieces do you often wonder how to use in an outfit? What J.Crew items would you like to see an outfit created for (please include item name or item number)? Do you have any J.Crew items in your closet that you are unsure how to style with? Please, let us know! :)

J.Crew Prices: Are They What You Remembered?

Some of you have pointed out (throughout posts) that (1) J.Crew prices for certain items have increased this year (from previous years) and (2) that prices for items online are different than the same item in-stores. I thought this definitely needed its own topic to see if this is something that many of you have been recognizing as well.

For example, NE-Guy (in the "J.Crew's Fumbles Impact Stock" post) mentioned: " the men's section, their suit vest which was once $98 a couple of months ago, now sell for $118! Also many of the other outerwear item have increased $20 dollar as well..." Another example is a comment by Weab (in the "J.Crew Website Is Updated With New Arrivals" post) where she saw "...the Stephanie is $128 in the store and $98 on the web".

I have also noticed prices for certain items (like basic cardigans) increasing. As a result, I have been adjusting my expectations in terms of price. In particular, I have been "raising the bar" on what I believe are acceptable prices for items. :) Although prices of supplies (e.g. fabrics for items, gas for transportation) have definitely increased over the years, I am not sure if J.Crew's prices have risen by the same percentage.

What are your thoughts on prices increasing at J.Crew? Have you noticed any price differences for the same item when its online versus in-stores?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

J.Crew Re-Opening (& 15% off) at Short Hills, NJ

A big "thanks!" to Mary and Blumre who shared with us an email J.Crew sent announcing the grand re-opening of the J.Crew over at Short Hills, NJ. As an added bonus, J.Crew is offering 15% off any purchase. This offer expires 9/10/08. Click here to print out the email (with a bar code) to shop at the Short Hills store.

Off On A Tangent: Cole Haan Factory Store Offer

"Thanks!" to Jenn Brak who let us know that Cole Haan is offering $75 off a purchase of $250+ at their factory stores. The offer is available from August 28 to September 7, 2008.

In order to take advantage of the offer, you do have to print out the email (click here) to present to the cashier at the time of purchase. :)

J.Crew Sends Mass Email About Orders

"Thanks!" to Molly and Sarah S. who let us know that J.Crew sent a mass email about orders placed recently (this past weekend). The following is the email's text:

Thank you so much for your order this past weekend—we have included some very important information below.

We experienced some glitches with our new September site that directly impacted your order. Some of your items appeared unavailable in our systems when we went to ship your order. We are in the process of rectifying this issue and determining which items are in fact available.

Don't worry—we will be sending you notification shortly outlining your available items, and, for these items, we would like to extend free expedited shipping as we are sure you are eager to receive them. If at this point, however, you wish to cancel any of the items we do have available, please let us know and we will make those changes for you.

Lastly, you can disregard the cancellation emails that you received earlier this week. These were a result of the glitch that we experienced, and we apologize for any confusion.

If there is anything you need in the meantime, we are here 24/7 to assist you with all your needs. Simply call us at 800 562 0258.

Best regards,

The Customer Service Team at J.Crew

If you received this email from J.Crew, please know that you are not the only one. Your orders may or may not be affected by this. I think this is a general (CYA) email. ;)

Did you get this email? Are your orders still being delivered on time and complete?

J.Crew Stores: 40% Off Final Sale Is Back {fabulous!}

A big "thanks!" to jcrewlvr who let us know in the post "J.Crew Factory Store: Sale Going On Now!" that J.Crew was having an additional 40% off final sale at her local store. I just called my local store (that had the 30% off final sale last week) and found out that they are now offering 40% off final sale as well. Therefore, chances are that your local store is carrying 40% off final sale items too! :)

Also, jcrewlvr shared with us some markdowns at the store: "Olivia top is now 79.99, cheetah cami & lame cami also got marked down today. Some new in store promos (not additional 40% off) are Cord Pencil skirt is 49.50, herringbone & Donegal Fiona's & Ecole's are 25% off. Matchstick cords 69.50 (along with bootcut) and Watson pants are 49.50."

Are you excited to see the additional 40% off final sale return to stores? Do you think you will visit your local store to see if they are offering an additional 40% off and to take advantage of the additional markdown?

J.Crew Factory Store: Sale Going On Now!

A big "thanks!" to Kater who shared with us J.Crew's latest email. J.Crew Factory Stores are announcing their big sale with (1) new arrivals up to 40% off & (2) summer items up to 75% off.

P.S. I love what everyone is wearing in this photo! My family photos never look this good. Usually there is a dog looking the other way and someone looking pretty disgruntled. ;)

WSJ Article Mentions The J.Crew Aficionada Blog! :)

There is an interesting article over at Wall Street Journal (click here for link) that discusses J.Crew's financial situation in relation to its system upgrade. Among the discussion, there is a link to this blog- how exciting! :)
J. Crew Blames Software for Its Bad Quarter
By Ben Worthen
August 27, 2008

Most retailers are blaming a slowing economy for their fiscal shortcomings. J. Crew is blaming a botched system upgrade.

The clothing company Tuesday announced that income for the quarter was down 12% from the year-ago quarter to $18.1 million. J. Crew also lowered its per-share earnings guidance for the year to $1.44 to $1.54 from $1.70 to $1.75. The culprit was a project to upgrade the software it uses to process orders from its Web site that went astray, the company said.

The new system went live on June 28, the problems began almost immediately. “We experienced issues related to the site performance, order fulfillment, and call center performance,” Jim Scully, the company’s CFO said on a call with analysts.

Just what did he mean by issues? The site has been down periodically since June, costing the company untold sales and frustrating customers, at least the customers who post on blogs and message boards. And we’ve read reports about botched orders and returns: In one case, a man was charged $9,200 for shipping and handling for three baby-sized shirts – he had ordered men’s medium – and then couldn’t get the Web site to process his attempt to return the goods, according to the man’s blog.

J. Crew said it spent about $3 million in the just-completed quarter to fix the problem, and made numerous public apologies, which J. Crew fan blogs have been tracking pretty closely.

There was a wave of businesses blaming poor results on tech-projects-gone-bad in the early part of the decade. We haven’t seen it much lately, though.

One difference: Nike, Hershey and others that had problems in the past went out of their way to blame the tech vendor. J. Crew never once tried to pass the buck. The company didn’t respond to our requests for comment, which also means we don’t know which company sold the offending technology. You can search the Web for “J. Crew” and “systems” and find the names of several companies J. Crew buys software from, but there’s not enough evidence for us to point a finger.
I apologize about posting another article about their current financial situation. ;) This post was more to let members know that our comments and concerns about J.Crew are being seen and noticed- and I just thought that was pretty cool. :)

Love It Or Leave It: The Fontaine Dress

Fontaine dress
Click here for product page
Item 96056
Regular: $650.00

This dress is one of those items that I think J.Crew Aficionadas will be divided on. I don't know how much middle ground there will be, I just feel like most will either truly "love it" or definitely "leave it". ;)

I have to say, that I actually like it! Of course I say this before trying on the dress. But I like ruffles. I also like that this dress has pockets. I just love dresses with ruffles and pockets!

Although, I am not sure about the "silk/wool/mohair bodice". Will I be comfortable in this combination of fabrics? I also think that there should be other colors offered besides "root" and "pine bough" (like black and navy). I would love to wear this dress with a nice jacket or coat (similar to the style in the image on the right).

What do you think of the Fontaine Dress? Have you seen this dress in person? Do you own this dress (or have you already ordered it)? If so, please share with us your review. :)

J.Crew Orders: Are Yours Being Cancelled?

"Thanks!" to Ann (in the "J.Crew Investors: Conference Call Today" post) who came up with a great topic for a post which is about canceled orders.

A few Aficionadas have mentioned that their recent orders seem to be oddly canceled, even though the items ordered are a "new arrival" and/or still "in stock".

For example, Kirbydog (in the "Product Review: Berry-trim Astrid Jacket {delicious!}" post) let us know about her recent order for the Berry-trim Astrid Jacket in Plum that has been canceled as it is now "sold out." Molly (in the same post) mentioned that she was also notified about her recent order for the Jacinda Jacket being canceled. However when she called customer service about the jacket/order, she found out that J.Crew did have it available. :)

Have you been able to order recently with out an issues? Have any of your recent orders been canceled or waitlisted (that you didn't know prior to ordering)?

Off On A Tangent: Banana Republic Offer

A big "thanks!" to Cass who shared with us this exciting offer at the Banana Republic to celebrate their 30th Anniversary.

On Thursday September 4, between 7-9PM, enjoy 30% off any purchase of $125+ when you use a Visa, Banana Republic, Gap, or Old Navy credit card.

There is a catch- this offer is only good for in-store purchases at select locations (which are listed on the image to the left). To RSVP for this event, click here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

J.Crew Investors: Conference Call Transcript

The transcript to today's conference call (refer to "J.Crew Investors: Conference Call Today" post) is now available in its entirety here.

There are some interesting points to mention:
  • The executives at J.Crew felt the upgrade to the website was not optional: "It was mandatory... these upgrades provide the ability to operate separate websites for new concepts such as Made Well and Crew Cuts. This was not possible under our old system..."
  • They recognize the impact of the system upgrade but are hopeful that its just temporary: "...we should have been more conservative in our plans regarding the length and extent of the disruption caused by these upgrades... we expect to have our direct systems and operations stabilized over the course of the third quarter..."
  • There have been some positive areas that are doing well like direct business: "our direct business, which includes our catalog and online, achieved a 12% sales increase in the second quarter on top of a 19% increase last year despite the issues with our direct systems upgrade"
  • They are planning to open 42 more stores this year {yey!}
  • Madewell stores are doing well and there are plans to open 15 more Madewell stores in 2009; however the Madewell e-commerce site is delayed until early next year (because of the system upgrade)
  • The system upgrade unexpectedly impacted how they handle inventories, which lead to an increase in compensating customers w/ free shipping and additional markdowns in stores: "... a 150-basis point decline in merchandise margin... deterioration resulted from unplanned customer accommodations related to the direct system initiatives in the form of free and upgraded shipping, increased markdown activity as a result of our inability to transfer store markdowns to the direct channel, and increased freight expenses as a result of transferring inventory between stores..."
  • Sale customers are recognized by J.Crew {yey!}: "we know at the end of the day, there’s a big sale customer out there and there’s a big regular priced customer so we’re balancing that with maintaining integrity through this period..."
  • J.Crew purposely tried to cut back on having sales through their website by reducing some marketing incentives: "We drive the business everyday through e-mails, marketing, special events, free shipping. We just dramatically pulled back... and the risk, of course, was obviously a little less sales but less pissed off customers..."
P.S. "Thanks!" to KatherineD who also listed highlights of the conference call (in "J.Crew Investors: Conference Call Today" post).

J.Crew's Fumbles Impact Stock

The following is an interesting article from Fortune (click here for link) which discusses J.Crew's current financial situation.
J.Crew fumbles system upgrade
By Colin Barr
August 26, 2008

J. Crew’s (JCG) latest makeover isn’t off to a good start. Shares in the New York-based apparel retailer swooned in after-hours trading Tuesday after the company missed its second-quarter earnings target and slashed third-quarter and full-year earnings guidance.

J. Crew made $18 million, or 28 cents a share, for the second quarter, down from the year-ago $21 million, or 32 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a 32-cent profit. But the weak second quarter isn’t all the bad news: The company said it now expects to make 28 to 33 cents a share for the third quarter, compared with a 46-cent analyst forecast.

J. Crew cited $3 million in unexpected upgrade costs tied to its Internet and phone ordering systems, which “limited our ability to leverage our multi-channel platform and resulted in incremental expenses.” The company also blamed “continued softness in our stores business due to the macro economic environment.”

The sour numbers come as CEO Mickey Drexler, the man who made the Gap (GPS) into a household name, is trying to push J. Crew upscale. Analysts see an opportunity for the purveyor of chinos and polo shirts to take younger customers from the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF). But as Fortune’s John Brodie recently noted, “As confident as Drexler is, the timing is risky.” With shares down 15% in after-hours trading, that much is clear.
Although the news is disappointing, it is also not unexpected. The system downgrade (including that $3 million in unexpected costs) had to impact J.Crew negatively. :(

What are your thoughts on this article? Disagree or agree?

J.Crew Investors: Conference Call Today

According to J.Crew's press release on their website (click here for link to "Investors Relations"), they are having a conference call today "to review its second quarter fiscal 2008 financial results." The broadcast will be "live over the Internet on Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time" and will be "available by clicking on the 'Investor Relations' section of the Company's website at"

The following image is the stock price so far. I am curious to see where the stock price is at the end of closing day today. :)
Will you be watching the conference call live today? Do you own J.Crew stock? Have you been pleased with their past performance over the last quarter? Would you recommend buying J.Crew stock now?

Just Asking: What Is The Student Discount?

Audrey raised a great point (in the "Article on J.Crew's New Accessory Catalog" post), that J.Crew's website (click here for page) displays the Student Discount at 10% (shown below) and not 15%.
As mentioned in other posts (like "J.Crew Student Discount: Upgrade & Downgrade" and "J.Crew Student Discount: Upgrade to 15% Off"), the student discount was increased from 10% to 15% recently. I also received a card in a J.Crew package (which I posted above) that also shows the student discount as 15%.

I am not sure if what the website displays is just a typo, or if the student discount is reverting back to 10% off. (I emailed J.Crew's customer service with this question and will post the response once I receive it.) :)

What do you think of the student discount: is it 10% or 15%? Have you been able to use the student discount recently for 15%?

Update: A big "thanks!" to a J.Crew employee ("Anonymous at 1:39 PM" in this post) who shared with us the following:
Hello - J. Crew associate here! The student discount has indeed been permanently adjusted to 15% instead of 10. It's been this way for maybe a month, and all the associates should be aware of the change. The teacher discount is also 15% - we know you both work equally hard! And yes, both discounts can be combined with any additional percentage that is taken off of sale merchandise. All we need is an ID! Happy shopping!

This comment definitely clears up the confusion. The student discount should be 15% off and also applicable to any additional percent off sale. Fantastic! :)

J.Crew's Taste Maker: Lisa Finkelstein

"Thanks!" goes to Allison (in the "Product Review: Berry-trim Astrid Jacket" post) who shared with us an interesting article featuring a director of jewelry over at J.Crew. (Click here for the link to the article.)
LISA FINKELSTEIN: Director of design/women’s jewelry, J.Crew
By Sarah Eveans
Photo by Sean McCormick
August 20, 2008

Dallas women are known for their larger-than-life taste in jewelry—a design aesthetic J.Crew accessories designer Lisa Finkelstein understands. “In Texas, we are friendly and loud and fun,” the Dallas native says. “Jewelry is a conversation piece and should make one happy.”

As director of design for women’s jewelry at J.Crew in New York City, Finkelstein is in charge of creating the entire accessories collection for the company—everything from oversized cocktail rings to sparkling hair pins.

Growing up, the Greenhill School and UT Austin grad had a passion for making crafts, as well as drawing and photography. After college, these creative passions led her to a career in fashion. She worked her way up the ladder with jobs in New York and Los Angeles, followed by a summer intensive at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London and several years at Rebecca Taylor. Three years ago, she was hired on as a consultant for J.Crew, and it wasn’t long until the company’s creative director asked her to design J.Crew’s jewelry collection.

“It was challenging, but I definitely felt ready for it,” she says. While much of her inspiration comes from J.Crew’s color palate and clothing designs, Finkelstein also scours vintage stores on the streets of Manhattan to get ideas. “I’m a very vintage-inspired person,” she says.

For fall, she’s loving big statement necklaces, and she advises layering bangle bracelets for a chic look. One thing she’s not a fan of: wearing every piece of jewelry you own all at once. “Pick your statement and swallow it,” she advises.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Finkelstein’s Dallas roots are still firmly planted. “Growing up in Texas I was surrounded by women dressed in bright colors wearing big baubles and rings,” she says. “I like to have fun with jewelry and use it as a way to express myself.”

I think it is always fascinating to learn more about the people working at J.Crew. :) I also agree with Lisa that jewelry owned and worn should make one happy! :)

What do you think of J.Crew's jewelry pieces? Do you agree with Lisa's advice about layering bangle bracelets? What kind of fashion statement do you think J.Crew's jewelry tries to make?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Darlings, is it time for a J.Crew coupon code?

Yes, it is that wonderful time again! :)

"Thanks!" goes to jcrewlvr (in the ""Article on J.Crew's New Accessory Catalog" post,) who let us know that J.Crew is offering free shipping on orders of $150+ with promo code SRK-90. This offer probably expires 9/6/08. Please note that the code cannot be used in combination with any other offer and is not applicable on phone orders.

What is also interesting to note, is that jcrewlvr mentioned receiving a thin catalog, (64 pages) as oppose to the regular catalog (124 pages). I wonder how they decide who gets the "thin" or "thick" catalogs? :)

Article on J.Crew's New Accessory Catalog

A big "thanks!" goes to Ashley who shared with us a great article about J.Crew from Women’s Wear Daily (click here for the link).
A New Accessory
By David Moin
August 25, 2008

J. Crew customers will do a double take when they receive the brand’s next accessories catalogue around Sept. 2: The format has been totally redone in 10 1/2 by 15-inch recycled newspaper. It’s also clear the content has progressed beyond the familiar mittens and chunky hats, which J. Crew historically embraced to a sophisticated array. The book displays fine Norwegian leather and Italian calfskin handbags, metallic totes, satin fleur clutches, satchels with a wax patina that changes with age, gold and beaded necklaces, pearls and pared down colors.

The image is further heightened with most of the accessories shown with items from Collection, which provides luxury versions of Crew classics, like coats in shearling and T-shirts in cashmere.

“Because we mail catalogues so often, 13 a year, we felt it was time for something a little more arresting. There’s an element of surprise,” said Jenna Lyons, creative director. “We didn’t want people to think this is a normal catalogue.”

She acknowledged J. Crew has been more recognized for sportswear. “We want accessories to be top of mind as well.”

That may be the case down the road, too, for Collection, Lyons added, noting a Collection catalogue, which hasn’t been done this year, is a probability. First up, however, is a Collection store opening soon on Madison Avenue.
I am personally excited to see their catalog on accessories. I think J.Crew does a fabulous job designing the "regular" catalogs, that I can't wait to see their take on accessories. I am wondering how customers will receive this catalog- by mail (to a select few customers) or through their stores. In either case, I am hoping that I can get my hands on one. :)

What are your thoughts on the Collection catalog concept? Would you like to receive one? What are your impressions of J.Crew's collection accessories like jewelry and handbags?

J.Crew Cardholder Email: You've Got To See This Bag

A big "thanks!" to Blumre, Ashley, and Hexicon who were kind to share with us the latest email sent to cardholders about the Jaime Bag. The subject for the email was, "Cardmembers, you've got to see this bag..." It made me smile, because as many of you have pointed out, this bag has been available for awhile. Cardholders seem to be getting quite a few emails lately which I think is great (okay two- but that is a start!) :)

Italian calfskin Jamie bag
Click here for product page
Item 97485
Regular: $495.00

This bag was actually discussed in the "Love Or Loathe: The Shoulder Strap Trend" post. I personally do love the bag, as I like the optional shoulder strap. I also think the colors the bag is available in are gorgeous: burnt sienna, dark cloud, tulip, honey glaze (back ordered already until late December of 2008!) . However, the price tag is a bit pricey for me to actually purchase.

What do you think of the Jamie bag? Would you buy it? Do you think it is worth the price tag, or would you go with another label for that price (e.g. Coach)? Do you agree with the subject line, is this bag one that you've got to see? :)

Product Review: Berry-trim Astrid Jacket {delicious!}

Berry-trim Astrid Jacket
Click here for product page
Item 96309
Regular: $248.00
Colors: Plum, Bright Blue, Heather Charcoal

A big "thanks!" goes to Weab who was kind enough to share with us her review of the Astrid Jacket she purchased (in the scrumptious heather charcoal,) recently. The following is her review in its entirety:
As I mentioned, my mom was with me this time. The second she laid eyes on it (in charcoal) her jaw DROPPED! My thoughts exactly. I (and the SM) insisted she try it on but she didn't want to buy the same one I just bought. She finally caved and the second she got it on her face just lit up! She bought it. :)

I have to note that she saw the other color options in the cat but felt the same way I did: not versatile enough in such bold colors for that kind of money.

It's more structured than I expected. And SOOOO CHIC!!! I thought the jacket was so novelty looking and had been advising everyone to stay away from it. However, I think this particular combination of charcoal with the special details makes it a showstopper but with class. You won't feel self conscious or kitchy walking into a room with this on. But I believe it's one of those pieces that will draw compliments every time you wear it. It looks like a $2000 Chanel jacket. Again, I believe it's the neutral color that really makes it work so beautifully (somehow the bolder colors don't have quite the same effect imo.)

The "berries" seem to be sewn on very securely and have some firmness to them. It doesn't seem like they're going to fall off as soon as you put the jacket on. I do understand the concern of the backing fraying but, if it does, I really think it will add to its character. It also has hidden hook closures that I didn't even know were there until the SM fastened them for me. But a nice feature to add to it's versatility.

I found the fit true to size. I took a 2. I usually need a petite but this jacket is cropped and has bracelet sleeves so I was fine with a regular. I think it's something that can be dressed down and worn with jeans and a graphic tee or dressed up with a skirt and pearls. SO beautiful!!! (In fact Tracy Gardner is photographed wearing the Astrid in this very color in the "How Much does the J. Crew Team Make?" post. )

Now, I just have to be sure my mom and I consult with each other first before arriving anywhere. ;)
First, "thank you!" again to Weab for sharing with us her awesome review. Second, I am totally loving the heather charcoal color! It seems like such a fabulous shade that transitions well from business to casual. Love it! Also, I actually tried on this jacket but at the time there were no other colors in the store besides the bright blue. Although I liked the jacket (especially the berries), I didn't think the bright blue was versatile enough to warrant the full retail price. So I am thrilled to see that heather charcoal is an option for this jacket. :)

What are your thoughts on the Berry-trim Astrid Jacket? Have you tried this jacket on? Would you love it or leave it? Are you planning to purchase one? If you already own this jacket, please let us know what your review is.

P.S. What are your thoughts on J.Crew calling the heading "jackets" now "blazers" on the website?