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When J.Crew publicly announced the launch of a new, value-driven label called J.Crew Mercantile at the end of last week, the details were a little fuzzy. Up until this point, J.Crew Mercantile had been living as a line inside J.Crew Factory stores, producing pieces that were specifically made for Factory customers. Now. J.Crew wanted to break out the Mercantile line into its own set of stores. But what will make it any different from J.Crew Factory stores?
As it turns out, not a whole lot. Buzzfeed News obtained a copy of an internal memo sent out to J.Crew employees last week that goes into more detail on the Mercantile concept, and basically, it's J.Crew Factory shops set inside malls to compete with fast fashion behemoths like H&M and Forever 21. The company plans to open up 10 Mercantile locations this year and there's more expansion plans in the works for 2016. The stores will carry the exact same merchandise as J.Crew Factory, which generally runs under $100 for just about everything.
"Some of our customers also shop at J.Crew, but buy at the outlets a few times a year to stock up on their favorites," the memo reads. "For many of our customers, J.Crew Mercantile or Factory is ‘their' J.Crew, both in our stores and on our web site. They appreciate the sharp price points for classic J.Crew styling, and feel they are getting a great value."
The retailer will have to strive to clear up what makes each brand unique and complementary to each other. According to Buzzfeed News, the memo notes that one of the most frequently asked questions is, essentially, why buy at J.Crew if you can get similar items for cheaper at Mercantile? In response, the memo explains that J.Crew's mainline will still carry all the newest styles, as well as brand collaboration and collection items. Plus, the regular J.Crew products are "utilizing finer fabrics and yarns and more elevated design details."