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Why J.Crew's Doing Its Own US-Made Premium Denim

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All images <a href="">via</a>
All images via

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The merchandising masterminds that keep J.Crew ticking across America—the world, at this point—have recently expanded into the world of premium denim. Interestingly, they gave the product extension its own name, Point Sur Denim, differentiating it from the existing J.Crew Denim styles. "We're always looking for those things that excite us, that make our hearts beat faster, and denim kept coming up. It felt like the right thing to have this brand that's part of our company but stands on its own, its own name," Tom Mora, Head of Women's design at J.Crew, explained to Racked.

"We're so vested in doing beautiful, classic things with a twist and denim is a big part of that," said Mora of Point Sur's origins. "Quality is such an important part of what we do—this is really the premium stuff... [We're] working with the best premium cottons from the US, from Japan, from Italy. It's really using the best of the best." The elevated mindset allows them to take "J.Crew favorites"—think heritage, American vintage, and "boyfriend" styles—to a place that doesn't need to appeal to everyone. "We still love our J.Crew denim, but it definitely reaches a broader audience. [Point Sur] is going after those die-hard denim lovers... [We're] playing with proportion, playing with rise, to make it really unique and special." Along with any emphasis on quality comes a step up the price ladder: Point Sur rings in between $198 and $288, while J.Crew Denim asks $115 to $168.

"[Point Sur] allows us to speak to the denim customer—not the J. Crew customer who likes denim but the customer who is a denim fanatic." One of the ways they're doing that talking is through a dedicated microsite "introducing" Point Sur Denim. Inside, denim nerds have a rabbit hole of information to explore, from inspiration to materials and production specifics.

On the note of production, one significant differentiating point between J.Crew Denim and Point Sur Denim is the location of manufacture. Point Sur is a domestic effort, made in Los Angeles factories. "They make the best jeans out there," explains Mora of the choice. The physical closeness to J.Crew's New York HQ—"five hours by plane, three by phone"—means they have closer quality control, too. "We can go out there, tweak something, and have it back in a couple of hours. It's real time. We're working a year in advance on the rest of the collection—with denim, you can work so much more closely." Another big plus? "You can experiment, do a smaller run and see how it works out."

Relating to the rest of the collection—and the Collection—Mora notes that there were a few Point Sur styles in the J.Crew fall presentation shown during February's fashion week. "Denim has always been a huge part of our DNA, it's something that we love, that we use on a constant basis, it's sort of a grounding point of our clothing. Denim's always been the part that brings us back down to Earth." Despite the mall retailer's catapult into the high-fashion stratosphere (and price point—they recently offered a cashmere tee priced at $895), "It's very important to us to not be too serious about fashion—something fun, something real, that's how people dress now."
· Point Sur [Official Site]
· J.Crew to Launch a New Budget Store Called J.Crew Mercantile [Racked]
· Mickey Drexler's Nickname Used to Be 'Stubs' [Racked]