I had a good laugh this morning while (can I say ‘whilst’? I’ve always wanted to say ‘whilst’) reading J. Crew’s latest quarterly earnings summary. The company outperformed other retailers, even beating their own projections and chalked their success up to running a better business and offering several successful clothing items (“Minnie” pants, toothpick jeans…i.e. the same clothes everyone is selling). I find it interesting that there is no mention of a little business booster named…wait for it…MICHELLE OBAMA.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like J. Crew. I think they are one of the few companies that offers decently priced but good quality cashmere. Their shoes are usually made in Italy and fit nicely. In fact, I have more than my fair share of their wares. However…J. Crew has consistently turned out similar looks, season after season. I could exchange my current catalog for any month from the last four years. I have been in many J. Crew stores around the country and nothing much has changed – same merchandising,
same selection, same rude staff. So I find it hard to believe that J. Crew suddenly figured something out and I find it really easy to believe that the numerous mentions of Michelle Obama shopping at J. Crew and Sasha and Malia wearing CrewCuts coats at the inauguration might have played a strong role in their recent success.
On top of all of this, J. Crew reported that the Madewell stores are not doing so well. On one hand, I’m not surprised. Every time I go in that store, I get depressed. Droopy, sad clothing in need of a good steaming. They may have great jeans, but when they lay around in giant, intimidating piles, I am less than motivated to try them on. On the other hand, given the high-handed pushing Madewell gets from fashion mags, I’m surprised that they are not doing better than they are. You would think that Madewell is the answer to all your fashion dilemmas when, in fact, I can’t find a single thing I’d want to wear.
So, cheers to you J. Crew. Keep up the good work, but take a loooooong look at what’s driving your success so you can stay alive without a celebrity spokesperson. Would love to hear what others think – let me know!