J. Crew has filed for bankruptcy. While that doesn’t mean the store is going away for good, it inspired us to have a full discussion on the Brand! We trace its history from it’s early catalogue/RL wanna-be days to its status as the mainstream’s voice for #menswear, Americana, and heritage.
Even though we don’t always buy from it (especially as our tastes have changed), it still holds a place in our hearts. Perhaps this is a sign for how mainstream menswear/mall brands will fare in the future..
Hey guys! Before we start, I just want to announce that we are officially going to be opening up the podcast (not the blog proper) for sponsors and patrons! We explain it in the episode, but this is mainly to cover the cost of producing the podcast (in which we’ve enlisted a few friends who graciously donate their time) as well to improve it for the future.
Becoming a Patreon Patron will not only give you a bonus episode every month, but it also unlocks our upcoming discord channel where you can talk menswear instantly with other enthusiasts (and us). Think of it like our FB group but a bit more dynamic! The Patreon will launch in June.
If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor of the pod, send us an email at StyleandDirection@Gmail.com
- 0:20 Intro
- 1:05 Updates on Sponsorships and Ads
- 6:45 J. Crew
- 10:20 “(J. Crew) was like Polo Ralph Lauren except on the more accessible side; middle class versus upper class.”
- 10:35 “When the catalogs were coming out that was lifestyle branding, people canoeing or at beautiful cape cod beaches.”
- 11:45 “(J. Crew) was instrumental to the revival of classic menswear. They led the preppy revolution of the late 2010’s.”
- 14:35 “J. Crew tapped into what was happening in the men’s fashion world…they were the height of (that scene).”
- 18:00 South Coast Plaza
- 21:55 “Seeing (the pieces) in person was such a big deal to me…it was like the first independent menswear store: it was curated, people who worked there dressed with personal style, they had a sense of experimentation.”
- 22:45 “It seemed like everyone that worked there was really passionate about dressing well, it wasn’t just a job. It felt more like The Armory/Drake’s; you could go in there, talk to them about something and you could tell that they know about it. They know the product and have an opinion on it.”
- 25:00 “(J. Crew) always had more of a distinct voice, which a lot of mall brands don’t have anymore.”
- 29:10 “Another really cool thing that I liked about J. Crew was that people learned about Aldens or Barbour for the first time coming into our store.”
- 30:10 New direction
- 33:20 “There was still a lot of stuff that, even if I didn’t personally like – it’s still cool that we have patchwork madras shirts, even if the collar’s bad.”
- 35:15 Pricepoint
- 35:45 “You’re starting to get more and more custom, more access to artisanal brands that may be more expensive but are at a better value.”
- 37:00 “Even to regular people, they aren’t ready to pay that price. The world just isn’t ready to dress up the way we do, it’s hard to justify.”
- 39:50 Future of retail in menswear
- 40:20 “Banana republic, H&M – they didn’t have a look, but J. Crew has always had a look; it was always tapped into this americana, everyman prep aesthetic.”
- 41:20 “Right now, guy’s either want to just dress like the MFA basic bastard – they can go to H&M or UNIQLO and do that pretty well, or they want to get into a more niche style. They want streetwear, techwear, classic menswear, and you’re not going to be shopping at mall brands to get that.”
- 45:05 “(J. Crew) is a place you could go to get dressed for everything and you’d be fine.”
- 47:10 “There’s different styles out there that have an identity. Yes you’ll go to the boutique but it’ll remind you of J. Crew.”
- 48:35 “You have the business side where you want to make a profit, and then you have the other side of the consumer where you want taste – you want something, and it’s this constant battle between the two, which makes this whole next stage in the menswear industry interesting to watch.”
- 49:40 “There’s no longer any sort of big generational style of dress…hippies dressed a certain way which really denoted a lifestyle and ideology and immediately told people ‘this is what I’m about,’ and I’m not sure there’s any popular style of dress that can do that anymore.”
- 52:05 “(J. Crew) was a way for me to see the wider world of menswear diluted into a mall brand look.”
- 55:35 WAYWT
- 57:15 “It was nice to see that the mall had a gleam of hope, something accessible but still looks good.”
- 59:00 “Where else but Urban Outfitters are you going to find self-help books with the f-word in the title?”
James Brett was the CEO of West Elm and brought Johanna Uurasjarvi as chief design officer who worked at Anthropology and West Elm who replaced Somsack Sikhounmuong (Somsack soon became the designer for Alex Mill). A year later J.Crew hired Jan Singer during the beginning of this year as the new CEO after the departure of James Brett do to disagreements from the board.
- Die, Workwear: Menswear’s Last Big Moment
- Put This On: Do We Need J. Crew Anymore?
- Put This On: J. Crew is Still a Solid Value
- r/MaleFashionAdvice on J. Crew here & here (more recent)
- Derek Guy’s Washington Post editorial
- A recent repost of a 2011 J. Crew lookbook on MFA
The next episode is going to be a big AMA and will coincide with the launch of our Patreon! So stay tuned.
Podcast is produced by MJ and Matthew.