Thursday, August 6, 2009

J.Crew and Their (Loro Piana) Secret

There is another interesting article over at the WSJ (click here) about J.Crew's sweaters and their secret partnership that's not-so-secret. ;)

What’s in a Wool? The Secret of Loro Piana
Italian Textile Maker Sells to the Finest Designers— and, Quietly, to J.Crew
By Christina Binkley
August 6, 2009

Operating out of the village of Quarona at the foot of the Italian Alps, the Loro Piana family has been wholesaling textiles for six generations. Famed for its meticulous grading of wools, Loro Piana sells its fabric to high-end manufacturers, tailors and couturiers such as Brioni, Brooks Brothers and Maggie Norris—makers who sell suits for $10,000 and are permitted to sew Loro Piana’s scripted label onto their garments.

“As long as they sell the finished product for a high enough price, they can use our name,” said company co-chairman Pier Luigi Loro Piana over lunch and an Australian sauvignon blanc at the Modern in New York. “They cannot be too cheap because our fabric is always at the top of the line.” The cost of Loro Piana’s own line of conservatively cut clothes—a sweater can cost well over $1,000—reflects the luxury-at-all-costs approach of Mr. Loro Piana and his brother Sergio, who seek out rare wool, cashmere and silk fibers from Australia to the Himalayas.

But consider the online description of another sweater, a cashmere V-neck cardigan that is “spun from supersoft, luxurious Italian cashmere from a world-famous mill in the foothills of Piedmont.” The peddler: catalog purveyor J.Crew. The price: $145. J.Crew’s Web site also notes that for a $298 cardigan, “We used the very finest cashmere—direct from a storied mill in Quarona.”

With that cagey wording, J.Crew refers to an open secret in the textile industry: Loro Piana supplies not just Brioni but also Bloomingdale’s, as well as many other middle-market brands. Some use Loro Piana wool and fabrics openly and some under deepest cover—forbidden by contract to associate their brands with Loro Piana’s luxury image.

J.Crew, for instance, makes its cashmere sweaters—including its Crew Cuts sweaters for children—from Loro Piana yarn. But the company has contracts with the Italian manufacturer that require it to keep mum.

Which it does, sort of, by using everything but the company’s name. “I told them, why don’t they just put in the ZIP Code?” says Pier Guerci, Loro Piana’s president in the U.S., who has brought up the issue with J.Crew’s chairman and chief executive, Mickey Drexler. Mr. Guerci chortles wryly—Mr. Drexler is a friend who recently let him use his home in the Hamptons. “They could have a little map, with an arrow pointing to the factory.”

Yet the back-and-forth begs a serious question for consumers: Is it worth paying for the Loro Piana name? What do you get from two different companies that use the same yarn?

J.Crew is a mass brand with broad middle-class appeal, but Mr. Drexler has been working to upgrade its clothes’ quality. Loro Piana was one of the first new producers he hired in an effort to switch to more luxurious textiles—part of a turnaround he credits with attracting the brand’s highest-profile customer, Michelle Obama. “We focused our efforts on the best in the categories we were in,” he says, referencing J.Crew’s Thomas Mason shirt fabrics among others. He declined to discuss his company’s relationship with Loro Piana. Executives from Bloomingdale’s and Brioni also declined to discuss their relationship with the Italian company.

But a sweater is more than the wool it’s made of. At a time when virtually all Italian textile manufacturers are struggling with a global recession that has exacerbated competition, Loro Piana is trying to differentiate itself by playing up its image of quality and luxury.In its fabrics, it markets innovations such as lightweight wool threads twisted with linen and silk. Loro Piana-branded clothing and accessories now account for about 60% of the company’s revenues, Mr. Loro Piana says.

Mr. Loro Piana speaks with pride of the company’s vertical control—from Mongolian sheep-shearer to Manhattan cardigan. At Loro Piana factories, workers known as menders use tweezers to pick out small impurities from fabric. Only two flaws per 50-meter piece are allowed, below the industry standard of five flaws.

Anything you manufacture, you can control the quality,” says Mr. Loro Piana, with a brief segue into how wool becomes one micron thinner, and therefore worthless, in a drought. “If you don’t control the manufacturing, you lose something.”
But what is it that you lose? To get an idea, I made an informal comparison of a J.Crew sweater and one from the Loro Piana line.

Priced at $1,750—a level at which one expects quite a bit—the gray-ribbed Loro Piana sweater was created at the company’s factories near Quarona. Its tight knit creates a rich texture, and the details—such as working buttons at the cuffs, tightly woven elbows in a contrasting patter and finely finished, sturdy pockets—suggest lasting style without looking trendy. After we bunched up the sleeves, the knit held its shape, the wrinkles quickly falling away. It’s also long enough to double as a dress. Cared for properly, it should last for years.

J.Crew’s white cardigan, priced at $298, was made from Loro Piana yarn that was shipped to a factory in China to be knitted according to J.Crew’s specifications. Its label makes the most of the yarn’s origins, saying “Made in China of Italian Yarn.” The sweater is more stylish in its 80s-influenced boyfriend-style design, but it’s so thin that it’s see-through—which may be intentional, given that it’s billed as 14-gauge “featherweight” wool. (A J.Crew spokeswoman declined to comment on my critique.)

Grosgrain trim inside the placket smartly stabilizes the big shell buttons, but it stops midway up the body, creating an ill-finished, flimsy look at the top. The arms remained wrinkled after being bunched up. It’s fashionable, but not dressy—a wardrobe item that should last a year or two.

What are your thoughts on the article? Disagree or agree with any of the points made? What are your experiences with J.Crew's sweaters? Do you think J.Crew does a good or poor job of advertising their not-s0-secret relationship with Loro Piana?


  1. I am interested in seeing if the quality has improved any in this fall's cashmere before I purchase any.

    Currently, I only own two J Crew sweaters and both are merino. The few cashmere sweaters I have purchased in the last 2-3 years have lasted only one season before looking worn out. Sorry, but it is is sad for a $158 cardi to look shabby after 10 wearings.

    I have some vintage cashmere as well as some newer pieces from Ann Taylor, Saks and Bloomingdales that look positively pristine in spite of years of wear and many washings.

    They have incredible syles in their cashmere sweaters, but the quality and durability are areas where J Crew can do much better.

  2. hmmmm. I own the constellaton cardigan pictured in your post. When I received it, I was surprised that the label stated the sweater was made in china. For $298, I assumed it would come with the usual jcrew "made in blah, blah, by the finest blah, blah. After reading this article, I guess I should be thankful it was made in china and not at the foo foo la la mills in Italy or it would have cost a gazillion dollars. How ridiculous! It is see thru and lightweight which I like. What I don't like are the reviews I've read in the blogs about the quality of their sweaters..especially at these price points. I bought a cashmere henly on sale that has held up well so far. Let's see what happens with it this year.

  3. Agree with kitsmommy, waiting to see if this year's quality is better than past seasons. My J Crew cashmere pills after one wear and I had to throw away a boat neck sweater after it started to unravel at the cuff.

    I've managed to pick up a few cashmere sweaters from Theory at TJ Maxx and I love the quality. They have held up well after several seasons of wear and no pilling.

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  5. My cashmere from Macy's and Norstrom has held up better than my JCrew cashmere, though I haven't had any major issues with the latter. It's hard to beat JC's colors (I love the oranges, greens, yellows, and blues). I usually get black + grey cashmere elsewhere, and colorful stuff at JC, though I do have a great bright aqua turtleneck from Bloomie's that I've had for about 5 years and it's still going strong (I baby it, so that's part of the reason).

  6. I had to throw away a boat neck sweater after it started to unravel at the cuff.

    It's worth noting that J.Crew will always take back defective merchandise.

  7. eeek. I must be hardwired against throwing away cashmere. I physically cannot bring myself to do it. I would make the defective item into a pillow for my cat before tossing. In fact, I have a cashmere sweater from high school (+/- 10 years ago) in my fabric bin right now. :P

  8. Does J.Crew take back defective items even if I purchased it over a year ago? I have a shirt where the seams are undone at the sleeves after few washes and I don't know how to fix it...

    As for the cashmere sweaters I agree with kitsmommy, my cashmere from J.Crew pilled badly from just one wear. I haven't tried other brands but maybe I'll have to try other brands.

    Thanks Alexis for an interesting article. I wouldn't have known the Italian yarn J.Crew used was from Loro Piana if I hadn't read this article.

  9. I'll wait to see how the cashmere sweaters in the stores hold up after being hold up & tried on, etc., before buying any more cashmere from j.crew. The sweaters I bought last winter pilled inside of a handful of wearings. The colors, however, are divine.

    Like Kitsmommy, I have cashmere from Ann Taylor and Lord & Taylor (including one v-neck that I've had 10 years) that looks better than the junk j.crew has been peddling recently.

    I thought the writer's comparison of the J.Crew sweater and one from the Loro Piana line was very telling.

  10. I have a cashmere sweater from Ann Taylor from years ago and it looks brand new with hardly any pilling. Truly excellent quality! I find the J crew Cashmere ones DO pill a lot but like others have said, you can't beat the colors and the fit and the styling.

    I find I just have to take a bit of care with these sweaters- reinforce the buttons and de-pill them from time to time. For these reasons, I never buy the cashmere sweaters full price- they always seem to get marked down at the end of the year or in January so I just wait until then.

  11. I bought a couple sweaters from JC and they did not last at all. I just ate the cost and stopped buying cashmere from them. It only takes one time for me to realize that I made a bad decision.

    I love the cashmere sweaters at Club Monaco though and they are always on sale after a couple weeks. I've purchased them as low as $19 and never over $49.

    I can't afford to throw away money anymore so I am very careful about only buying quality-made classic items that last.

  12. Very interesting article Alexis! Thanks for posting :)

    I too have had "issues" with some J.Crew sweaters. I was able to return one dream yarn sweater due to pilling (that was before I knew it was so common) and have a cashmere one that looks awful after a couple of wears. The merino wool isn't as bad, though it still pills. I still buy for the same reason many of you have stated, gorgeous colors and unique styles.

  13. My cashmere sweaters from last year pilled badly and the v-neck cardigan came apart at the neck seam. My BR cashmere sweaters have held up very well.

  14. I am always disappointed when I buy J Crew cashmere, yet I seem to have amnesia at the time. I keep buying sweaters that pill horribly, unravel at the bottoms, necklines, and wrists. I may have to try a piece this season to see if there's been a change.

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  16. As I've mentioned before:
    1. I have J.Crew cashmere sweaters from 1998 that look better than those I bought last year.
    2. Of my purchases from last year, the Collection cashmere and the regular cashmere look equally bad--ZERO difference in quality. (I bought the hype and foolishly thought an upgrade to Collection prices meant I'd see a corresponding increase in quality.)
    3. I have a note taped to my J.Crew card that says "do not buy J.Crew cashmere sweaters."

    I don't expect a sweater to last forever (even though I have entirely wearable thrift-store cashmere that is probably Kennedy administration). But it shouldn't pill into shreds the same season purchased. Like Tastymoog, I can't bear to throw a cashmere away, but I use one of last year's sweaters as a pajama top because it's not fit to be seen out of the house.

    I'd be curious to hear back from the JCA who was participating in the test run. I'll need some pretty good assurances before buying J.Crew cashmere again.

  17. i guess cashmere is hit or miss. but does anyone use the cashmere laundress wash that jcrew has? or the care kit.
    curious if it works.

  18. I notice that the more popular J Crew gets with the mass population, the more inferior the quality of the merchandise is.

    I have been wearing J Crew since its inception back in 83' and still have some of the items that I have purchased throughtout the years and trust me that the quality is no where near what it was back then.

    I think that J Crew needs to refocus on the quality of the products rather than the quantity of sales.

    And its not just J Crew but a lot of brands that once they have become "established", out goes the quality. I find a lot of brands are using more synthetic materials or adding them to the basics of cashmeres, cottons and wools.

  19. Thanks for sharing the article, Alexis.

    The bit that struck me as most intriguing was when the article's author said that J. Crew wouldn't respond to her critique of the nearly $300 sweater. Why would the company allow themselves to be portrayed as so detached/uncooperative on issues of quality?

  20. Interesting article, thanks Alexis.

    Also interesting is how JCrew pushes the envelope with suggesting who their supplier is, without actually saying it. Quite a risk, when you consider Loro Piana’s dismay at this.

    In any case, I have a few of JCrew’s cashmere sweaters from the last two fall seasons and they have held up alright, but I also baby them and don’t wear them often.

    A good source for great quality cashmere basics is Mount Cashmere ( they also ship international orders. They do great winter basics, have gorgeous colours and they also do lightweight summer pieces that are worsted (and feel like silk).

  21. Marketeer: I have used the Laundress soap and it is good. It makes the sweater soft and there is a slight lavender smell to it. You have to de pill the sweater with a sweater comb afterwards, it is a good alternative to dry cleaning.

    Miche27: I could not agree with you more.

  22. Ah, the perennial Jcrew cashmere conundrum. Cute style, great colors, crappy quality. Reading all the posts here, starting from kitsmommy, patina, la belle helene, and on down, I'm glad to see that us consumers here, as gaga as we are over jc, have a long enough memory and awareness of other retailers' cashmere goods to know that in comparison, JC cashmere has in the last 3 to 4 years consistently fallen short when measured against the cashmere from, as several have mentioned: Bloomies, Theory, and heck, even Macy's.

    I am holding out hope that their latest marketing hype - three years ago it was their hush-hush association with TSE (of which i own four pieces, all of which have never pilled and look as great now as they did when i first purchased them seven years ago; I can't say the same for the Jcrew argyle cashmere cardigans from a few seasons back that were supposed to be made from the same cashmere TSE used ). And now, here we have the latest iteration of a "secret" association with an expensive cashmere maker - Loro Piana. I'll try and be open-minded but I'm with everyone else on this - I prefer to wait and see before buying the HYPE once again.

    End of rant. Thanks, Alexis, for digging up the article.

  23. I find this odd that they are supposed to keep "mum" about using Loro Piana because about 4-5 years ago when I worked for J Crew they were using this yarn and at company meetings we were told to tell our customers that it came from Loro Piana, same with their jeans that are done by the same people who do 7 for all mankind and their blazers who are from another famous place, which I forget the name.

  24. Summerilla, I had a similar experience when I worked at J.Crew retail. We were also told to tell customers the yarn was from Loro Piana in Italy.

    Now I work as a fashion designer and know some things about fabric. The truth is that the softer the cashmere is (and therefore considered higher quality), the more it will pill. It's just the nature of yarn. A lesser quality cashmere may actually pill less, but also doesn't feel as soft.

    I have had lots of J.Crew cashmere as well as other brands and I just accept that the pilling (and removing the pills) is part of owning it. However, I will not buy black cashmere anymore - it ends up looking especially bad!

    I also don't think it's fair to compare a "featherweight" cashmere to regular. It's like apples and oranges. It is obvious the writer doesn't know what she's talking about.

  25. Thanks, Cortney_Joy!

    As a life long knitter and yarn fanatic, we knitter have always known what you explained so well. Pilling? Duh. (Of course pilling+poor quality is a drag.)

    Last year's Professor cardigan is wonderful cashmere; the summer weights varied. These season's cashmere ecole colorblock (in stores now) has that exquisite "sweetness" we look for in touching/scrunching a piece of cashmere. Heaven.

  26. Articles I've read on the quality of cashmere have centered on the length of the fiber - i.e., longer (also more expensive) = less pilling. And that the best test for judging the quality of the cashmere is:
    1. How soft is it to touch?
    2. Does the item snap back to its original shape after being pulled?

  27. I'm with Hexicon & tastymoog. I have painting (crafting, not rooms) in cashmere that I didn't want to let go of. Granted it was cashmere from Mervyns, but it didn't pill like J Crew cashmere. I tell the truth!

    In other news -- the eyelet pencil skirt is $99.99. Looks like there are a few sizes.

    I reviewed it here:

  28. I was disappointed in last year's cashmere with piling and stretching. Last winter, they also pulled all the cashmere out of my store, so I couldn't check the quality in store prior to purchase. I thought my older cable knit cashmere held up the best, but I don't think they did cable knit last winter.

  29. I had posted this yesterday in another thread but thought I would repost here since it pertains:

    Just came back from shopping at my local B&M on my lunch break and as I was walking through the store with a new cashmere cardi draped over my arm (trying unsuccessfully to convince myself to put it down) I was approached by a SA who told me that they've changed their cashmere so that it no longer pills the way the old cashmere did. She said it may pill a little bit initially but that will be the extent, as it's designed to last for multiple seasons. Needless to say I bought the sweater! Now let's hope what she said is true...

    I'll report back once I've worn it!

  30. I agree with Kitsmommy. My mother has cashmere sweaters from about 20 years ago that look brand new, whereas my 2-year-old JC cashmere pills badly. I've never had problems with unravelling or seams giving way, but the pilling is highly annoying.

    To be fair, though, JC cashmere is considerably more affordable than a lot of what I see offered by competitors (over $300 for a sweater). You get what you pay for.

  31. I have only a handful of J.Crew cashmere sweaters. I find wool a bit itchy next to my skin, even most cashmere so I only buy when it is a color I can't resist. There is some pilling but I remove it with a pumice stone at the end of the day and haven't found it to be a big problem.

    I do have one Donna Karan (not DKNY) fine cashmere sweater made in Italy that does not pill at all and I can wear it next to my skin without an itch. It's pretty old now and still looks like new.

    Very early this year I recall reading on JCA that the camel wool pants pilled something awful so it's not just the cashmere and dream sweaters that can be a problem. Hopefully that issue has been corrected on the wool pants this year.

  32. Oooohh Dara, I would def like to hear how your cashmere wears!

  33. Miche27--I agree completely ("I notice that the more popular J Crew gets with the mass population, the more inferior the quality of the merchandise is.") I, too, have been shopping with J. Crew since the '80's, and the quality has definitely gone downhill. I still have some fabulous sweaters from the old days, and they look almost as good as the day I bought them. However, I'm still loyal to the brand because the color choices are unusual and beautiful, and the combination of classic tayloring with edgier options is really appealing to me. It's all about numbers. JC is selling to a larger share of the marketplace now, and it's probably very hard to maintain a high level of quality. It's sort of like cooking for 4 as opposed to 400.

  34. Sadly I've found the same thing with BCBG which is why I don't shop there anymore despite having worked for the company in the past (AWFUL company to work for, but I digress). Once upon a time I had a plethora of matte jersey dresses and cashmere sweaters from the late '90s that I had worn dozens upon dozens of times that still looked like the day they were purchased. When I worked for them from 2002-2003, I found that the price points had gone up yet the quality had gone way down. I recall one occasion where I spent over $100 (after my significant employee discount) on a cashmere sweater, only to have it grow a huge hole under the arm on the very first wearing, and the company refused to exchange it for me. Even though I was an employee! I so badly wanted to wear it to work so the customers could see why they shouldn't purchase BCBG cashmere...

    Anyway my point is that, sadly, it's not just J.Crew. I'm finding that many of the boutique-type stores of a similar price point have also let their quality drop bigtime.

  35. A couple of OT items:
    I just got back from Bellevue Square. (I don't get to B&M very often.) Fall stuff is fully out and the women's sale items are down to just one 4-ft wide shelving area. Only a few colors of cords out, unlike last year's displays. The store (indeed the entire mall) was pretty quiet.

    Eden jacket: after dithering on size in 4R and ordering a 4P to compare, I wound up deciding to go with the 2R and shorten the sleeves. If, like me, you are right between R and P, you may find that the waist on the P is too high in this jacket.

    Ribbon-front top was cute but HUGE and IMO quality was dubious (some fraying and hem had a lot of loose threads). I am usually a 4 and took a 0, which still was too boxy. Even though JC hasn't done a good job with zippers in its tops this is a case where a zipper and closer fit would be better than a boxy pullover. This would only be a sale purchase for me.

    To my surprise I liked the sparkling rose tee and grabbed it (no more embellished tees for me though!).

    And the jewelry--so cute but IRL so HUGE. I had no idea how large some of this stuff is--earrings looked like they'd rip lobes right off.

  36. O/T Crappy Quality Alert: Item 16173 Twisted Slub Cotton Henley - When I opened up the bag, there was a hole the size of a pencil eraser by the front buttons. The fabric is so sheer no wonder. Cute style, great fit but crappy material way too thin. I am embarassed I paid f/p for this.

  37. J.Crew merino has been great for me, in durability, cut and weight of the yarn. I have three cashmere sweaters from J.Crew and while they are decent they are nothing like the private label ones from Holt Renfew (Canadian store like Saks).

    I've stopped buying cashmere from J.Crew until they get it up to the same level as other department stores. Until that happens I'll get my cashmere elsewhere and buy merino from them.

  38. I am also a knitter (since I was 5!) and I don't entirely agree that the the softer cashmere ends up pilling the most. Over and over again I have heard and seen from experience that the longer the fibers are, the less the yarn will pill. However, one can expect even good cashmere to pill a little, as the shorter fibers work their way out to the surface.

    Ann Taylor has consistently had the best cashmere of any mall store at which I have shopped. I have 5+ year old sweaters from them that have pilled a little initally, but once those pills were removed, have literally never pilled any more. And they are incredibly cuddly soft.

    One thing to remember that some colors of cashmere may be softer than others. Sometimes less white fibers are used for darker colors and these fibers tend to be more rough. Also, some of the darker dyes make the fiber more stiff and scratchy.

  39. This is completely off topic, but I wanted to review the order I received today.

    I ordered the Wool Ruffle Front Coat in camel, the Shirred Wool Skirts in carbon and black and the flutted 120s skirt in coal.

    To start with, Brown delivered my package to the wrong address yesterday. Customer service at both UPS and J Crew were superb as they worked to resove the problem and both followed up with me.

    Now for the coat. The color is lovely. It is very similar to the camel Maggie I got last year. I also really like the length - it is great for my 5'4" smallish frame. I think the coat fits true to size and the style is excellent. Now for the bad. I was a little disappointed in the fabric. It is a felted wool and just does not feel as nice as the Tuesday Trenches and Maggies I got last year. However, I doubt the unfinished ruffles will unravel due to the texture of the fabric. The ruffles on my coat were awful and they were the dealbreaker. One side was fine, but the other was ruffled up way too much at the top and none at all at the bottom half. I also do not like the large snap at the bottom of the placket. If looks fine when buttoned, but I would have prefered another button to having that huge snap on the coat. Overall, I do not feel that the level of finish on the coat and fabric quality justify its price.

    I sized up on the shirred wool skirts in the hope that they would lie a little lower on my hips, but this did not work for me. The waistband is not contoured and really needs to sit at the waist (at least on me!). The fabric is lovely in both colors and I hope we see it in other garments. They also have cute contrast colored waistbands. The gray's waistband is purple and the black was ivory. The shirring is beautiful and I like the way the pockets were done. I ordered a size 6 and the length is 17 on the gray and slightly under 17 inches on the black. Since an inch makes a huge difference on a mini, I wish they were actually 18 inches long as advertised on the website.

    I have to give a rave review to the flutted skirt. The wool is perfect, the coal color is incredible and the skirt is made beautifully. I would love to have this skirt in every color. It fits true to size.

  40. Maybe I can't speak so much to J.Crew cashmere but I do love their print blouses. I wore the Ellora print blouse for the first time today. I was lucky enough to purchase this blouse on the JCA Weekly Exchange after it had sold out, *many thanks kater*. The print is so striking and beautiful IRL, I had people actually come up to me on the street out of the blue and say, "How are you today?", "Where did I get that lovely blouse?", "I love your blouse." J.Crew sure does know how to rock a gorgeous print. Must be a winner, I never saw the Ellora pop back after it sold out online. Not even once.
    Polyvore link to Ellora

    Great item alert! If you are looking for an awesome pair of pants, try the Superfine Cotton Bistro pant if it pops back on the sale site. Marked down from $118 to $39.99 and came in navy and white. These pants can be worn as professional or as casual as you like. Very soft and woven to be stretchy without any synthetic fibers for an amazingly comfortable fit. Few wrinkles, hold their shape all day and the leg-lengthening silhouette is great to transition to after-work wear. Amazing Japanese cotton fabric is silky and smooth. Terrific bargain, head and shoulders above the Premium Stretch Bistro pant, which I also own.

    Also released this spring was a Superfine cotton blazer that I bought and wear with everything and a pencil skirt that I didn't buy. All are machine washable and I've put mine through as a delicate with no problems. I will be watching for this fabric in the future. Love it!

  41. Hi ShuLvr, I also have to give a huge rave to the Superfine cotton collection - I have the blazer, Bistro pant and pencil skirt and they are all *fabulous* basics. I did try the Cristobel dress too, but the cut was just a bit to generous in the bust for me - otherwise I would've nabbed that, too!

    kitsmommy, thank you SO much for the wool ruffle coat review! I've been debating purchasing for a few weeks but had some reservations, such as that big ol' snap and craftsmanship of the ruffles. I love the shape, though - can't wait to see more of JC's coat offerings!

  42. Thanks, Hexicon, for that Eden review. That is EXACTLY what I was wondering about the petite vs. regular sizes. Shall do regular!

    And this is late in the convo, but I use the Laundress wash on all of my cashmere and I love it. With a very gentle rub it will even get stains out.

    I agree on the Ann Taylor thing, and so does Consumer Reports. They did a blind purchase of 10 mall-store cashmere cardigans last year (including J.Crew) and AT came out way tops. J. Crew was not included in the top three. I am skeptical with their redesigned line, though this year. Looks like the focus is trendy, not classic quality.

  43. Today I am wearing my new cashmere sweater and I'm excited to see if the SA was right about the change to J.Crew's cashmere. A lot of what has been mentioned in this thread about Ann Taylor's cashmere and quality cashmere in general was in line with what the SA told me: this season's cashmere may feel a little stiffer compared with prior seasons, but after a small bit of initial pilling it will stop. Very excited to see if this is true! I know it's not cashmere weather yet in NYC but it's chilly in my office ;)

    OT I visited the NYC collection store yesterday and made two very unexpected full price purchases: the Watercolor tortoiseshell skirt and the Glen-plaid wool short (the latter of which now appears to be nearly sold out online). I did NOT expect to like these items at all when I first saw them pictured in the fall lookbook, however they fit ever so nicely, the fabrics were lovely, and I could already envision as I was trying them on how I would wear them. I honestly did not expect either of these items to flatter ANY figure, but they sure worked on me (5'3", small frame). I couldn't resist, not to mention I walked into the store wearing head to toe J.Crew, complete with jewelry, so the SAs must've seen me coming from a mile away!

  44. Fabulous, fabulous news update: I've been wearing my new cashmere cardi all day and there is not so much as a semblance of a pill anywhere! I know this is only the first wearing but last year's cashmere pilled on me immediately (not to mention the Dream disasters), so I am very optimistic!

  45. I own Loro Piana's own cashmere item and J Crew's cashmere. There's a big difference between the two. The J Crew cashmere pills so quickly, within 4-5 wears. The Loro Piana cashmere which cost 5-6x more than J Crew's has yet to pill after several years. If I were Loro Piana, I would not let J Crew put the label on the cashmere items.

  46. kitsmommy-
    what/where is the fluted skirt that you love? Just in-store only right now? Thanks for the great reviews and to the others!


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