Hello-Hello, and welcome to a Friday!
Today’s first bit of news probably qualifies as Friday Fun, albeit not in the wacky genre, more of the “Oooh, this could be fun” kind of news: J. Crew announced yesterday they are going to open an online outlet store in September. Elizabeth Holmes at the Journal broke the story:
“”The New York-based clothing retailer is gambling that it can expand sales without cannibalizing demand for more expensive merchandise at its mainline stores. Apparel companies typically locate outlet stores in out-of-the-way malls, forcing customers to drive long distances to get access to the discounted goods. J. Crew is among the first to risk selling outlet gear over the Internet.”
The company is having an exceptional year, reporting an 87% increase in profits yesterday, even as most apparel and accessory firms continue to struggle in These Difficult Times. But with the economy entering a challenging phase, Mickey Drexler, J. Crew’s CEO, noted that customers are remaining price and value conscious:
“There’s a big world out there that’s playing the low-price game or lower-price game,”
Mr. Drexler’s comments came during a conference call with stock analysts; not everything he shared was considered good news by Wall Street. From MarketWatch:
“… analysts said some of J. Crew’s fall merchandise also has been too edgy and not resonated as well with its customers. The company also may have been hurt by increased competition from rivals from Ann Taylor Stores… to Talbots that have also offered embellished tops and other looks that are similar to J. Crew’s offerings, analysts said.”
The “too edgy” comment in the MarketWatch story is interesting, as we have chatted for some time in this space about the company’s change in direction and Crew’s vocal disdain for the word ‘preppy’. Another analyst quoted in the story referenced “…some fashion missteps”. For more on the retailer’s dislike of the preppy appellation, click here.
IOHO an online outlet is a wise move in many respects. Bargain hunters will be pleased to know the company plans to include those items currently made only for factory outlets, things not available at regular J. Crew stores. Here is more from yesterday’s WSJ story.
“J. Crew, like most specialty retailers, manufactures merchandise specifically for its factory channel. It’s a different model than that of many apparel manufacturers and department stores, which use their off-price channel to liquidate excess merchandise.”
But operating an online outlet can also have negative fallout, cheapening the brand; it’s no secret some shoppers prefer a little exclusivity, something that makes them feel special, not items that “just anyone can get.”
For those interested in the new site, WWD reports the address will be Factory.com; it is expected to go live in September.
Does this mean shoppers at ‘regular’ J. Crew stores will see less aggressive markdowns of the kind now underway, the “Extra 20% off” Final Sale? (The sale ends this Sunday, use promo code OURTREAT to receive the additional markdown.)
Crew’s identity challenges seem evident in two pieces shared in “Cooper’s Picks,” the pint-sized version of the popular Jenna’s Picks. First, we show a $395 Girls’ Shearling Vest, very much like the women’s version.
Call us crazy, but the vest seems a bit over the top for the Young Miss at your Palace. We contrast that with the $138 Grey Flannel Blazer, its lines and details more akin with what we used to think of when hearing the name J. Crew.
One can make a strong case there is plenty of room for both items at the store and that old fuddy-duddies like yours truly are trapped in the past while the fashion world moves forward, we respect that stance, and remain intrigued by seeing how things fare in future months.
Also on today’s hit parade, the US Open parties are underway all over the city, Nike’s was Wednesday night, with a solid cast of tennis celebrities: Maria Sharapova, Bar Rafaeli, Rafa Nadal, and Roger Federer, to name only a few attending. With Nike hosting, everyone was able to preview the looks featured on players sponsored by the sportswear giant.
Below left we see Ms. Sharapova in her US Open togs, a deep blue or purple dress with tuxedo styling, especially the lapel; on the right, Nike’s image of the dress via Rich at Down the Line Tennis.
Rafael Nadal was in black with neon green accents, while Mr. Federer’s style remain constant, below he is in deep navy blue.
Below, the competitors at a news conference after the event.
The Open launches on Monday.
Our final two tidbits are definitely Friday Fun:
- Cynthia Rowley is now offering designer Band-Aids. They come in chi-chi boxes and also actually help a good cause, one dollar from each box sold (at $10) goes to a fund to help high school and college students interested in design.
- The other item is definitely in our You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, featuring members of the Anti-Prep Wall of Shame. Behold the Jersey Shore Halloween Costumes.
What do you think? Is a Jersey Shore costume something we need to consider here at the Prepatorium? Should the Consort consider an evening as the Pauly D Situation? Do weigh in, your opinions matter a great deal. (Note we didn’t say they counted, heh-heh-heh, insert evil Princess cackle here.) These are available for pre-ordering at Costume Craze.
With that, we send wishes that everyone enjoys a weekend full sunshine and smiles.
ADDITIONAL PHOTO CREDITS:
- Bryan Bedder/Getty Images