J.Crew is officially too expensive, and the price-point exasperation might be built upon the popularity of the brand’s creative director Jenna Lyons.
If you’re like me, you didn’t pay much attention to J.Crew before First Lady Michelle Obama began wearing the brand in 2012 and Lyons’ square glasses-cum-executive-hipster realness began to gain traction with those outside of the clothing industry. (Well, if I’m honest, I fell in love with Madewell, then realized that my new sartorial crush was made by J.Crew and I could sometimes find the same items at the latter’s outlet stores.) In discounted shops, J.Crew routinely cuts their prices in half, making the J. Crew brand accessible to people with Old Navy bank account balances... for quality just below what consumers can find in the proper J.Crew shops. Meanwhile, the cost of full-priced J. Crew items continues to skyrocket. And people have had enough.
In fact, according to the New York Post, long-time J.Crew customers are taking their gripes with Lyons’ direction of the company and her personal brand to the streets. At the Hairpin, Tricia Louvar writes an open letter to Jenna Lyons that was later picked up by the Post:
“You are pretty dope,” it began. “If only I, an ordinary mother on a modest income, could afford to wear a $400 cashmere skirt, silk barely-there blouse and belt to a one-time business-casual event.”
Louvar then tallied the cost of an “everyday” outfit at the retailer, finding that it came to $596, the equivalent of 298 school lunches.
“I was a fan of J.Crew for over 20 years,” Louvar tells The Post. “But as I look at the catalogs now, I just don’t get it. Back when I was in college, it represented a classic look that was seamless.”
Last month the Washington Post’s Sarah Halzack reported that the company was noticeably slowing down. Sales in the stores fell by 2 percent and revenue slipped 5 percent during holiday season when everyone’s buying everything with money they don’t even have.
In a rare appearance on a conference call with analysts, chief executive Mickey Drexler offered several reasons for what he called “a tough year” for his company, including a decline in mall traffic, intense competition and shoppers’ fixation on promotional prices.
And yet the biggest problem of all, Drexler said, was one of J. Crew’s own making: It filled its stores with clothes that women really just weren’t into.
“We’ve made some mistakes,” Drexler said, including “missteps in our iconic classics.”
So I’m not the only one picking up white bejeweled button downs and wondering ‘How am I supposed to wash this?’ I feel less alone. Still most of the J.Crew customer unhappiness seems to be targeting Lyons’ “unique, preppy-with-a-twist aesthetic of the clothes” and how “she is a walking billboard for how to wear them.”
Lyons guided J.Crew from the images in this post *shivers* to the overpriced sometimes quirky brand we know today. I’m happy about that change but it appears I’m in the minority. I still love you Jenna, but Drexler might fire you if you can’t find a way to balance fashion-forward chic with the J.Crew stalwarts everybody pines for—and it’d be nice to afford some stretchy, tall girl jeans too, if you can make that happen.
Image via Getty.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.