J. Crew's New Strategy: Sell Affordable Clothing That Actually Fits People


In the year since James Brett took over as J.Crew’s CEO, the retailer has shuttered 39 stores and been forced to clear out unsold inventory from its 404 locations—a tell-tale sign that something ain’t working. In a new article from the Wall Street Journal, Brett discusses J. Crew’s latest strategy to salvage the brand: sell affordable clothing in a wide range of sizes and styles so people can actually wear it.

He told the publication, “We must reflect the America of today, which is significantly more diverse than the America of 20 years ago. You can’t be one price. You can’t be one aesthetic. You can’t be one fit.” I’m pretty sure people were different sizes in the ‘90s, too, but I digress!

The article continues:

Mr. Brett’s strategy is to expand J.Crew’s assortment with more entry-level prices, as well as plus sizes and more fit options. He also will sell the clothes at more retailers in a bid to reach shoppers across the globe. The company plans to roll out most of the changes in the coming weeks.

Some of the changes have already been made apparent. A J. Crew “classic t-shirt,” used as an example, currently costs $14.50 compared to 2017’s $29.50. Jeans start at $39.50 and now include plus sizes and curvy fits. Very progressive.

But don’t get it twisted—there will still be pricey, high-end items for the upper-middle-class echelon that became loyal to J. Crew in the ‘90s. It’s just that now, they’re hoping to make shit for other people.

As for what the affordable looks be beyond t-shirts and jeans, Brett doesn’t give too much away. He does, however, love to talk about what J. Crew is not:

“This brand should never show at New York Fashion Week,” Mr. Brett said. “We’re not Gucci.”
“We can’t be all New England preppy,” Mr. Brett said. “Not everyone wants to look like that.”

Will this Hail Mary move save J. Crew? I’m genuinely concerned that the affordable and accessible fashions Brett is talking up here will only include basics, which anyone can get anywhere. And if the more exciting, ornate products aren’t size-inclusive, J. Crew will merely mimic the issue of plus-size clothing since the dawn of time—straight-sized retailers selling boring-ass clothing to plus-size customers.

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