If you've been following The Fashion Barbie for a while, you are well aware of the fact that I am absolutely obsessed with J. Crew and Jenna Lyons. The preppy-chic brand has been my go-to for relaxed button-down shirts, bold accessories, and elevated tees for years. But lately I've found myself less and less impressed with the Crew's in-store offerings and turning, instead, to the more youthful sister-store Madewell, with which I am also obsessed. It seems I'm not the only one who is feeling uninspired with J. Crew as of late, because the company just announced some major changes this week.
The basics of J. Crew's news? In the face of a poor quarter and declining sales, J. Crew fired 175 employees and is bringing Madewell designer Somsack Sikhounmuong in as J. Crew's new head women's designer.
So why has J. Crew been struggling? Essentially what it comes down to is a decline in the quality of garments coupled with a rise in prices. If you frequent J. Crew I'm sure you've noticed over the past few years that prices have risen, but that hasn't necessarily led to an increase in design quality. Customers have complained about the sweaters in particular, which are staples of J. Crew. Others have taken issue with the boxiness of many of the clothes and the lack of exciting options.
Frankly, the designs at J. Crew are kind of boring. Sure, J. Crew is where I go to for fashion staples rather than stand-out pieces, but that doesn't mean that everything has to be so simple and uninspired. Otherwise, what's to keep shoppers from going to the Gap or Banana Republic for their classic basics? One of the things that I've always enjoyed about J. Crew is that, in addition to chambray shirts and classic cardigans, they've offered fun prints and bold colors to keep outfits fresh and fun. That unique styling has been absent lately, save for the higher-priced J. Crew Collection line, which is too pricy for most of J. Crew's actual customers.
|J. Crew Collection Fall 2015 presentation via Monika Hibbs|
If J. Crew focused on its actual clothes as much as it did the Collection line, I think they could really turn sales around. Today's clothing customer wants creativity and intrigue but they also want quality and affordability. There's a way to offer all of these things, J. Crew just needs to figure out how to fit all the pieces together.
|LEFT: J. Crew Creative Director and President Jenna Lyons|
RIGHT: New Head Womenswear Designer Somsack Sikhounmuong