J.Crew relaunches with an emphasis on inclusivity and diversity
J.Crew announced the launch of the “New Crew” on Monday, revealing a strategy that repositions the stagnating apparel brand as an inclusive label with a diverse offering, while also taking the prepster favorite back to its roots.
A release from the brand summarizes the philosophy behind the relaunch as, “Sizes and fits for everybody. Mood-lifting color, game-changing denim. Your forever favorites – with a twist.”
Accordingly, J.Crew’s extended sizing now spans from XXS to 5XL and the brand has announced that it is working on expanding and strengthening its denim range. The company is also promising a broader color palette across its offering.
A number of new cuts and revised fits are being introduced, with pieces such as the Slim Perfect Shirt, the elongating Parke Blazer, and the Goldilocks-pleasing Cameron Trousers (“slim but not too skinny, cropped but not too short”) headlining the new assortment.
All of these efforts to broaden the brand’s appeal seem to be aiming to overturn a certain elitist image attached to J.Crew which has, in recent years, been accused of being inaccessible. Even the upper-middle class shoppers who made up the bulk of its customers in its heyday.
“We must reflect the America of today, which is significantly more diverse than the America of 20 years ago,” explained J.Crew Group CEO Jim Brett in an interview with Dow Jones Institutional News earlier this month. “You can't be one price. You can't be one aesthetic. You can't be one fit.”
Indeed, the brand is also hoping to fuel its new inclusivity drive by ensuring a wider range of price points, potentially opening J.Crew up to previously untapped pools of consumers.
The inclusive approach also extends to the brand’s advertising which, Brett assured investors during a conference call last month, will now feature a greater diversity of models. In this respect, J.Crew can be seen to be aligning itself with perhaps the buzziest of current marketing trends, as an increasing number of companies try to connect with a broad range of demographics on a deeper level by diversifying their castings – efforts evident in everything from American Apparel’s inclusive rebrand at the beginning of the year to Asos’ recent announcement that it would be introducing photos of models of different sizes on its website to help customers better visualize pieces on their own bodies.
However, as well as reinventing itself for new markets, J.Crew is keen to channel the classic preppy aesthetic that won it a dedicated following back in the 90s. With this in mind, the brand will also be celebrating its “New Icons” with pieces such as the Juliette Sweater-Blazer, the Penny Loafers, the Daphne topcoat and the 1988 Roll Neck Jumper.
The “New Crew” relaunch is part of a wider strategic reshuffle currently being orchestrated by Brett, who took over as J.Crew Group CEO in July 2017. Other initiatives have included the recent announcement that the company would be expanding its distribution in the UK through a partnership with department store chain John Lewis, and the opening of a dedicated storefront for discount label J.Crew Mercantile on Amazon, a possibility previously scoffed at by the group’s former CEO Mickey Drexler.
In the second quarter of 2018, the J.Crew Group was again carried by its Madewell brand, but comparable sales at the J.Crew label also saw positive growth for the first time in five years – progress which the J.Crew Group will no doubt be looking to capitalize on as its flagship brand relaunches.
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