All of us, or at least most of us, are die hard, dyed in the wool, J.Crew addicts. But do any of us wear only J.Crew each and everyday? While 'crew makes up better than 70% of what I wear it's not the only thing I buy."Thanks!" again to J.Crew Guy In Canada for his take on J.Crew!
From my perspective the main rival to J.crew is BR. Yeah I can only imagine the sounds you're making now. Air sucked in through clenched teeth, shock and amazement. Settle down now, sure J.Crew tends to be slightly more stylish and fashion forward, but BR has to be doing something right considering they are roughly three times the size of J.Crew. So here's my take on some of similar items offered by both and how they stack up. And all of this is regarding in house items and none of the second party goods sold by either company.
Merino sweaters are a staple for me, v-neck, crew neck, full zip and even half zip. Both BR and 'crew make them. Who does it better? This one is close, but there are certain advantages that J.Crew has. BR uses too many blends with poly or arylic while calling them extra fine merino. BR also thinks I have arms like Grover. J.Crew wins here for 100% merino and getting the sleeve length right. Both do great colours. Crew has more form fitting cuts and is slightly more classic. BR does mix it up a little with some pattern and trim, but in the end round one goes to J.Crew.
Tailored dress pants are another item that I wear each and every week to work. J.Crew has the famous Ludlow and Bowery, both favorites of mine. BR has the Monogram, Heritage and tailored options. I do prefer what Frank and the team at J.crew produce, but BR is getting dangerously close to J.Crew with their current offereings. Factor in the almost constant state of sales and discounts being offered by BR J.Crew's edge is basically shot. The one area BR is off on is the inseem length. I regularly order pants longer from BR to compensate for the varying inseem length. Crew always fits me perfectly in leg length. But when I can get a pair of pants from BR that retail for $240 on sale for $99 then with an additional discount of 30 or 40% off the J.Crew advantage is gone considering they rarely see the sale rack. Ludlow is my favorite, but I can be bought and the prices from BR are getting me.
Ties, go with the dress pants, no contest, J.Crew all the way. Made in the U.S. and competitive prices make these a no-brainer. BR does make some nice ones, but made in China and varying widths and similar prices to J.Crew make this another win for Mickey and company.
Dress shirts, J.Crew has the washed favorite and it's various brothers while BR does both standard fit and a tailored one. J.Crew favours the button down and I have roughly twenty some to prove it. Fabrics are always cotton. They do some variety in pattern and fabric weight but nothing like BR. Cotton, cotton with stretch and then some. BR does a wide range of collars and cuffs and patterns. But there's something about J.Crew that I prefer. I do love me a shirt with stretch and BR makes some good ones, but J.Crew just seems to suit and fit me better. And then there's that corporate thing BR does. They just seem more business than J.Crew. I'd like to call this one a draw but according to my closet it's J.crew all the way.
So what about you? I know I've only covered the men's side so you need to dish on the women's items. Does J.Crew trump the offereings from BR? Who does it better?
Personally, I find it hard to substitute J.Crew's offerings with other retailers. Even though I might complain about the prices, or the quality at J.Crew, they really do offer the best items (in terms of style and fit) for me. I rarely purchase items from the Gap, BR, Anthropologie, Lands End Canvas, and Fossil now.
With all that said, if I had to pick a category where J.Crew needs to catch up... it would be perfect tees. I have tees from the Gap that can withstand washing after washing without holes or unraveling. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for J.Crew's tees. I have to treat them very carefully, which kind of defeats the point of tees (that they are casual and easy to care for).
What are your thoughts on this post? Do you have any pieces that you think another retailer does better? If so, please share with us your take. :)
I actually prefer to buy my husband's sweaters at Eddie Bauer, but I guess he's an Eddie Bauer kind of guy. I do love him in J Crew ties, but I can get them for around $5 on eBay, so that's where I get them.ReplyDelete
Back in college, I used to work for BR so I still feel a little nostalgic with them. That said, roughly 85% of my clothing wardrobe is J.Crew. Their clothing just speaks to me more; the colors, the styles, the fabrics.ReplyDelete
What I actually own from BR is mostly from their Monogram and Heritage lines as these are better made with better fabrics and more fun designs. More like J.Crew in a sense. Those lines used to be loads better IMO when they just debuted in 2008. Their 2008-2009 Monogram lines were amazing. I have several pieces from those collections including a taupe leather trench coat, two 100% wool trenches and three spring trenches of various cool It-girl designs. But now I rarely find things in-store that I 'must' have even though I stop there almost as often as I do J.Crew.
My other closet staples are Ralph Lauren for dressy clothing and shoes and Giuseppe Zanotti for shoes with other designers dotted in. I tended to sway towards more designer shoes up until recently when I got 6 pairs (and counting) of the super comfortable Martina wedges. These shoes they do very well.
If I ever stopped shopping at J.Crew, I'd probably have to divvy up my shopping between Ralph Lauren, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, Gap and a host of others. I haven't found one single retailer who meshes with me as well as JC does.
That was interesting, thanks! I'm not dressing for an office and if I were then I think BR would be competitive for me. I tend toward the casual and J. Crew has BR beat (my closet says so!). BR wins for its short-sleeved women's tees. They carry them every year and put out a limited set of colors. I have washed these so many times and they have held up great. Overall BR seems a bit stodgier and J. Crew seems more fun. J. Crew always seems a bit more in style to me as well.ReplyDelete
There was a time when my husband's dress pants all came from BR, the cuts suited him (jcrew pants are terrible on him!!!)and the fabric was great. The price didn't hurt either; then BR went on a blended fabric kick for a bit and he the quality wasn't quite as nice.ReplyDelete
ITA with the other posts regarding the recent quality issues with BR fabric. I have some gorgeous merino wool sweaters that I bought there a few years ago, but I wouldn't take the recent blends even if they were giving them away. Same with the wool pants. My older wool pants are great, but I don't want the poly/wool blends, regardless of price.Delete
Other than J.Crew, I probably shop most at Brooks Brothers. I like Ralph Lauren a lot, too.
This is a great posting- I think the info relayed here is quite helpful- factual, not subjective- I hope someone listening...ReplyDelete
Agreed that it's very difficult to substitute BR for J.Crew in most women's wear items. Some things I don't find the price point at J.Crew to be worth it though. For example, their denim is fine, but certainly not significantly better than the Gap (for example). And if I can get a sale elsewhere, that's where I'm going. Similarly, simple cotton tanks...$20+? No thanks, F21 sells them for $4.ReplyDelete
I don't own a single thing from BR so I guess that says a lot. Nothing they have seems special enough to purchase. I sorta liked some of the silk tops/dresses they had in a collaboration last summer, but lost interest and by the time they went on sale, my size wasn't available anyway. Meh. I am sticking with J.Crew, though I am shopping eBay much more for my fix lately.ReplyDelete
I feel that J.Crew's offerings have a lot more personality and spice than BR's. I love colors and patterns, and even the less trendy ye olde J.Crew did those well.ReplyDelete
While I own a few staples from BR in past years, I have to say, every time I walk through the stores, I just feel kinda...bored. (Sort of the opposite of Anthro, which is a sensory overload!)
That said, Anthro probably is my #2 store. 95% of what's in there makes me go, "UGGHHHH who on earth thought that was a good idea?!" but the other 5%? I turn into some sort of zombie ogre: "Must...have...now...full price doesn't matter...cannot breathe..." The truly genius thing about Anthro is that everyone seems to have a different 5%!
If I could afford it, my other go-to stores would be Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren. Heck, I can't afford J.Crew full-price anymore, but luckily I've been able to get about 90% of the things I want on super sale, which makes all the difference.
Oh, and here's something else I've noticed about J.Crew: as we all know, the brand has some sort of intangible magic which pulls us into its beam. I frequently find myself lusting over J.Crew pieces that aren't really my style, and I have to step back and ask myself: "If this was not a J.Crew item, would I still want it? Would I even notice it?" I'm shocked by how frequently the answer is no!ReplyDelete
Try it sometime for yourself! Envision the item hanging on the rack at Ann Taylor or Forever 21, and see if it doesn't seem less special to you. I've saved lots o' dough this way ;)
I love this idea! There have been so many things I wouldn't normally even look at, but when j.crew turns on that magic beam, bam I am all done!Delete
Haha yes exactly! Sometimes it's a good thing, because it pushes my boundaries...but more often than not, the items just hang in my closet and induce guilt, because I know I bought them with my crewlade goggles on. This trick has actually helped me a lot.Delete
I used to have a lot of Ralph Lauren, Anne Klein and Sandwich (a small boutique brand that I love) clothes before I got on the crewlade.ReplyDelete
Thank you for this thoughtful post. I really appreciate the menswear reviews and will keep them in mind when I am gift shopping. I agree that few stores can come close to J Crew. I was disenchanted with the last 2 collections and spent quite a bit of time trying to find things at other store, and could not, for the price point consistently match the quality. BR used to be admirable for both quality and style, but has become just another quantity vs quality shop. OT, but I was in my store today, and the new styles are really fantastic. I put some pages from the new catalog on my blog.ReplyDelete
On Trend Orchids
I am sure you will agree- when J Crew does it right, there is no reason to look else where. Although, Alexis- I completely agree with you about both the tees and tanks.
Like JCGiC, I also supplement my primarily (75%) JC wardrobe with BR (5%, Madewell 20%) every now and then. BR does have insanely frequent "extra 30-40% off" sales so they are very price competitive, but I still prefer JC. Their fabrics and cuts are very flattering on my body type. There's just this je ne sais quoi about J.Crew. I hope it continues to thrive so that I never have trouble finding clothes to wear. May your tribe increase J.C! XOReplyDelete
i intersperse with banana republic and dvf but i have liked trying out things from other lines and recently, zara, which offers a bit of a modern edge. definitely trendy but the prices aren't that bad so it is fun to mix it up a bit. the majority of my wardrobe is still a lot of j. crew though.ReplyDelete
The vast majority of my wardrobe is J. Crew - maybe 95% or so. J. Crew really suits my style and with their winning combination of style and quality, J. Crew still comes out tops in my book. (Quality being a relative term: as much as I know JCAs like to complain, J. Crew still has better quality than many other brands, including Banana Republic.) I have recently started buying from Club Monaco, which is a little edgier, and is of very good quality.ReplyDelete
The Thomas Mason J Crew shirts blow away anything BR offers.ReplyDelete
I used to loooove BR. Back in the day, they had those wonderful pants made in Italy and real silk shirts. And cashmere. And then . . .ReplyDelete
I want BR to succeed. I don't want to exclusively love JCrew. I am a recent JCrew convert--and I really, really like it a lot. Right now I am probably about 6 pieces of JCrew for every 1 BR. I used to go to BR for pants, but their fit has been so strange for me--I may have to try petite sizing to find anything that works. But I have liked some of the new spring offerings.
As an aside--Narcisso Rodriguez was hired as some kind of consultant for BR and we are supposed to start to see his influence this year. I hope so. I would love for BR to be truly competitive again.
But what makes JCrew work--and I say this as a biased person who believes in the creative process--is that there is a consistent point of view behind the designs. Someone loves these clothes and thinks that we will too. Someone is trying to express something via design. At BR, I still feel like someone is trying to make clothes that we might like and trying to do it as cheaply as possible. That's a punt. I hope that BR grows a personality again. I want to like it.
Great post JCGIC, as always. I used to shop pretty much exclusively at BR now it is J Crew. BR used to always have beautiful dresses, somewhat timeless, I still have and wear many in the summer. Like Lark, I go in the stores and feel bored by their styles and colors. Back in the day, their merino wool was to die for and I still have some pieces from back then. Like J.CrewJD, I have been getting a good J Crew fix from Ebay. I am not much of a gold jewelry fan, so watching for the black/silver from a couple of years ago on EBay and other items I missed out on.ReplyDelete