Tuesday, April 5, 2011

J.Crew & Women's Japan Love tee

"Thanks!" to Megan who let us know that J.Crew was selling a few products to help the victims of the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. They are also offering free shipping on these items.

Customers could buy the Love Save Japan tote (Item 52558; $25.00), or the Women's Japan Love tee (Item 52460; $25.00), described as:
This tee is available for pre-order. Wear your heart on your sleeve: 100 percent of the profits from the sale of this limited-edition tee will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society, which provides much-needed medical care and emergency supplies to victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami. The custom map design, created by our in-house graphic guru, is featured on soft cotton. Boasting a slouchier boy fit, this tee not only looks good, it's for an extremely good cause.Enjoy free shipping on this tee. Cotton. Crewneck. Short sleeves. Import. Machine wash.
But what makes this a bit more interesting is what Red (in this post) shared about the tee:
I'm a huge fan of J.crew, but 've got disappointed in Jcrew's current Japan relief campaign tee. ...The "Women's Japan Love tee," ... incorrectly labels the East Sea as the "Sea of Japan." This name originates from the period of Japanese imperialism and the brutal Japanese occupation of Korea from 1905-1945. It is part and parcel of the legacy of this time, which includes genocide, atrocities, slave labor, and the exploitation of tens of thousands of Korean and Chinese women as sex-slaves - the "comfort women" - by the Japanese. The United Nations has recognized that this body of water should be referred to as the "East Sea/Sea of Japan." Please change the name on this tee shirt to a less offensive and inaccurate name. ...
Well, apparently J.Crew took notice of this situation. On their Facebook page (click here), they share the following message with their fans today:
We received a number of emails voicing concern over our T-shirt design that we created to offer Japan support in their time of need. We are updating the T-shirt and have temporarily removed it from our site. Thank you to all who voiced concern—and most important, we hope you all share in our support of relief efforts in Japan.
I applaud J.Crew's move to help the victims of Japan. I am also happy J.Crew listened to all the concerns over the tee by updating to a more appropriate design. I look forward to purchasing the upcoming version. :)


  1. Kudos indeed! That's pretty quick reaction on JC' part! Madewell was also selling the tee, looks like it's been pulled there as well.

  2. Offfff course J.Crew messed up the name. OF course they did. Oh well, it's still cool of them to come up with a way to raise money for the poor people in Japan. I can't even imagine what they are going through right now.

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  5. It's sad that a mistake like this occurred in the first place but then again, mistakes DO happen. Good on them for acting so promptly to this error.

    I guess you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth but I do wish these large companies would do more. Saying 100% of the "profit" goes towards relief is a little misleading. What is factored into the "cost" portion of the t-shirt? Does that include an estimated dollar amount for marketing, accounting, shipping, etc, etc. because if so, the "PROFIT" may only be $0.50 or so.

    Surprisingly, mega-cheap retailer F21 did a great Japan aid effort recently. For one day, they donated 100% of the SALES for the relief effort. Not just profit, but the total sales amount. They raised over $2MILLION. Now that's impressive.

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  7. first of all, i applaud your post and bringing this to people's attention, alexis.

    helloshannon, you've got to be kidding me. if you were a holocaust survivor and such sea bore hitler's name, would you be okay with it? obvious, you are not sensitive to this issue... and your comment:

    "it's not fair that the victims of this tragedy have to be judged and looked at differently because of something that happened 60 years ago."

    ...is obviously flawed. who says that the victims are being judged? obviously, being a scholar in east asian studies really means nothing....

  8. I would much rather donate money than buy a t-shirt as a partial "donation" to charity. In fact, I would be too embarassed to wear this, I'd always be thinking, "Why didn't I just make a cash donation for the actual amount directly to a charity instead?" I guess some people like to be seen as charitable and others are more concerned with the act of charity itself.

  9. @helloshannon

    "I am very familiar with Korea's issues (there are MANY disputes over territory and names) and frankly wish they would move on."


    I would love to see you say that to Jewish people, African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves, Armenians, Native Americans, Japanese-Americans who were put into internment camps, and any other group who has been persecuted in the past.

    What a ridiculous thing to say, especially from a "scholar".

  10. Helloshannon -- when I read your Korea comment I too said WOW

    As a Korean American -- I can let it go... but boy! good thing my mom doesn't read this blog!! :)

  11. I don't think about it as an issue of letting it go so much as just plain what is correct and not. It'd be like someone making an "aid Russia" tee that still says USSR across the map - it just looks wrong.

    That aside, I applaud JC for making an effort to do a little something for the victims. Granted I agree with xoxo and would rather just straight donate to orgs like The Salvation Army or The Japanese Red Cross Society that have boots on the ground in the disaster areas.

  12. Wait a minute ... the UN suggests that people refer to the sea as "East Sea/Sea of Japan"? So Sea of Japan is OK? Then this is a non-issue.

    Again, I suggest that the people who are complaining about this check out the map web sites, because Sea of Japan is all over the internet.

  13. Just want to add that the exploitation of Chinese and Japanese women didn't begin with imperialism, nor did it end after their emancipation.

    This is such a non-issue. But J Crew being the good sports that they are, and never wishing to offend any customers, will comply.

    Jas, imperialiasm is not an analogy to the Holocaust. Nothing compares to the Holocaust, although the mass exportation and enslavement of African blacks probably comes close.

  14. did you see JCA is now on the blog roll of the 770 blog!

  15. gem twin & lolita.lee.love: I have a post for tomorrow about it! :)

    As for this post's topic... This is just my opinion, but I think JCrew made an honest mistake. If they fully understood the history of that region, they would have respected it properly and avoided the phrase altogether. (Or at least, I like to believe this.) I appreciate that J.Crew took responsibility and decided to remove the product until it was changed. :)

  16. ^ Yay, congrats, Alexis! Great news about 770. I was looking for the link and noticed they're not even on your blogroll yet. Link, please?

    @Linday, I noticed that too about profit. The finance nerd in me notes that profit is the money after costs, which means that $15 is not going to Japan for each t-shirt.

    I applaud J Crew for trying to help, though I also hope that kind-hearted JCAs will also consider giving directly to the Red Cross or other relief organizations.

  17. sorry, meant $25, not $15. but y'all see my point. Anyway, I am truly glad J Crew is trying to be helpful and culturally sensitive. :)

  18. OT: I have the 20% off Spring Mickey Card that I am not going to use. If anyone wants it, email me at ms.wendyyu@gmail.com. I will send it to you ASAP.

  19. Rosie: Thanks! Incidentally, J.Crew & Madewell links have their own dedicated link section {"J.Crew & Madewell Links"} on the side bar to make it easier for JCAs accessing them. There is everything there- FB, Twitter, net-a-porter, Shop Bop, etc. I listed the J.Crew blog link up there since we first heard about it. :)

  20. FINALLY some sign of life from corporate! I'm pleased with the speed of the response and the corrective action.

    Now, if only they could fix their web site and their promotions. ... lol. ;)

  21. Adding: when this issue was first raised here the other day, my first thought was that JC (true to form) probably reproduced a 'vintage' map for their tee. And I'm still fairly certain that's what happened. Doesn't make it right, but I also don't expect a fashion company to be fully versed in all aspects of world history.

    All I can say is, at least they heard people and are fixing it.

    And wow at F21 donating all that $$! That's awesome.

  22. Eleine, you are a genius! You are right, that's probably what happened.

    In any case I am impressed by both the campaign (I am mostly impressed by the free shipping offer, knowing how hard itvis for them to offer the shipping) and the quick reaction to the mistake (I am completely ignorant about the issue and I trust the people who complained that there is in fact an issue). To change the design is going to be costly for them and they could have just apologized. However time is important here and the effort will have a weak outcome if the fixed version of the tee comes out too late.

    I have probably would have bougth the tee, being unaware of the mistake.

  23. Tamara, the exploitation being referred to was perpetrated by the Japanese Army and imperial power during occupation of Korea and China. There was a state run system of sexual slavery that forced Korean and Chinese women to work as sexual slaves to the Japanese Army throughout their territories. You can read more about it here http://www.comfort-women.org/ and all over the internet. Many of these women are still alive and fighting for a proper apology from the Japanese state.

    I'm glad to know that this tragedy doesn't warrant any "complaining" because you have deemed it inadequately horrific in comparison to the Holocaust. Apparently the systematic forced removal and enslavement of over 10 million people from Africa over centuries is only a close second in your book.

  24. OT, but all of a sudden, I can't get on jcrew.com Error msg: FORBIDDEN You don't have permission to access /index.jsp on this site


  25. ldk - ** applause **

    Yay for JCA on the 770!

    I really think JC operates in a bubble, in general. I can see them kicking around ideas, patting each other on the back and launching an idea without a critical eye. Y'all know they serve Crewlade at the staff mtgs. I fault their PR & Legal depts, largely. They're supposed to dot the i's and cross the t's. Lots of slip ups in many areas.

    Commotion aside, I like the t-shirt and may purchase it.

  26. @Alexis -- sorry, my bad! I searched for the word "770" and nothing came up, that's why. I see it now. :)

  27. All it takes is someone with an accurate map and a bit of common sense. Yes, accidents happen but this could easily have been prevented. I won't be buying one. Would rather donate directly to an organization.

    However, I will say I like how Avon lists exactly how much money from each of their Breast Cancer items-- from make up to bags to clothing goes to Cancer funding. No guessing games there.

  28. The name "Sea of Japan" has nothing to do with Japanese Imperialism. China, a legitimate victim of the Japanese aggression, also use the name "Sea of Japan", despite vehement protest by Koreans, because that name is the international standard used by all nations and organizations except the two koreas.

  29. Just ordered a couple of these, pleased to see they included free shipping.

  30. I came across this blog entry and happened to read the comments that people have written. I was surprised to find that many people of other nationalities were so understanding and sensitive to this issue. I am Korean-American and although, I am not an expert on this issue, I do have a basic understanding of it. I just wanted to share that there is more to this issue than simply having the T-shirt say Sea of Japan, which should more properly be called East Sea. Within this sea, there is an island, which Japan and Korea are having territorial disputes. This island is closer in proximity to Korean territory and has been mentioned as Korea's territory for more than a thousand years. Many maps created in Japan historically have also given this island ownership to Korea. But by affirming that the East Sea is called the Sea of Japan, it is inadvertently giving ownership of not only that island, but of also the vast sea that Korea shares. Recently, Japan has officially listed this island as their in their history books. For many living Koreans, who have had so many things taken away from Japan and had to suffer through Japan's brutality, who have yet to hear an apology from Japan, this is Japan's blatant degradation of Korea.

    I applaud J. Crew for reacting so quickly to people's concerns. Something, I know they could not have understood the political undercurrents of. I hope that I can inform however few may read this comment.

  31. Tamara, my comment was NOT an analogy. It was a question to helloshannon since she was being very insensitive w/ the whole situation. I was just trying to put her in other people's shoes since she did not seem to get it.

    At the end, Jcrew did the right thing by removing it from their site, and I honestly do believe that they didn't mean to hurt anyone. Again, thanks, Alexis, for mentioning the whole situation on your blog and bringing it up to people's attention.

  32. Japan is going through a time of crisis. Korea calls refers to the body of water as the EAST SEA, but no where else in the World. But it's not about Korea today. I want a shirt that says SEA OF JAPAN. It has said SEA of JAPAN on European maps since the 1600s. I will pay extra for the J.Crew shirts that says SEA OF JAPAN, and they if they want me to remain a customer they won't bow to the pressure of Koreans who are jealous of Japan. What next? Change the name of the Indian Ocean?

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  34. People should notice that the chief designer of J.Crew is Korean American, Marissa Webb who was adopted to American family when she was 4 with her other 3 siblings. No wonder they respond quickly and you know what, who have ever saw "EAST SEA" on map? Here are some info that Korea should face to.

    It is verified by a survey of historical maps from around the world conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan that the name Sea of Japan is the only internationally established name for the sea area concerned.

    Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs "The Issue of the Name of the Sea of Japan"

    Historical map research in the British Library

     Sea of Japan 32
     East Sea 0

    Historical map reasearch in the University of Cambridge

     Sea of Japan 18
     East Sea 0

    Historical map research in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France

     Sea of Japan 254
     East Sea 0

    Historical map reaserch in the U.S. Library of Congress

     Sea of Japan 1110
     East Sea 2

    Historical map research in the Russian Federation

     Sea of Japan 29
     East Sea 1

    Historical map research in the Berlin State Library

     Sea of Japan 579
     East Sea 5

    Historical map research in the collection of antiquarian map dealer Nikolaus Struck

     Sea of Japan 35
     East Sea 0

    (2)The United Nations as well as the Government of the United States officially uses the name Sea of Japan.

    United Nations officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

    U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

    U.S. Department of State officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

    International Hydrographic Organization officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan

    CIA officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

    New York Times officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan.

    CNN officially uses the sole description of the Sea of Japan

  35. To arkitec

    I agree with your opinion of the territorial issue. Plus, the only both Korea and China don't want to help Japan's reconstruction of the disaster. For instance, U.S, Europe, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan, Thai, Taiwan and many other countries were willing to help Japan when they notice the disaster. Especially, many Taiwanese donated privately around $10 billion to Japan while the Korea shifted their small amount of the donation, probably 1000 times less than Taiwan, to their propagandize activity to insist their exaggerated territory. So I have to conclude that J.Crew rather helped the greedy Korean's propaganda than merciful international charity to Japan.

    As another user,protest, mentions about this issue, I want to buy J.Crew's T-shirt that says Sea of Japan on its design. I want to help Japan's construction. I hate to help Korea's propaganda. J.Crew should change again its design if it truly wants to help the country suffered of the multiple disaster.

  36. I agree with arkitec 100%.
    As a Japanese, I appreciate that JCrew tries to raise money for the Japanese. My family is one of them who have been affected by the disaster. Many Japanese feel warm towards Koreans and their culture and watch their soap operas,buy their music, and travel to Korea. I am disappointed that they dont respect for us as we do for them.
    I'd like to thank J.Crew and people in US who have been supportive to the victims of the disaster.

  37. Korea should let it go because it actually is called the Sea of Japan. The US and International Law of the Sea recognize it so. The only countries that don't are the ones that were imperialized by Japan. Those are TWO different issues. Because they were once imperialized doesn't mean their world view is more correct than others.


Dear J.Crew Aficionadas & Aficionados: Please feel free (and encouraged) to share your thoughts and opinions. :) However, please note that this is still a personal blog. So comments that are considered inappropriate (e.g. obscene, racist, homophobic, personal attacks, rude, and just plain mean) will be removed.

And now back to J.Crew! :)