Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Now the brand is keen on a turnaround. It will be undergoing a “relaunch” this September.
“Beginning this fall, we’re excited to bring new, expanded collections and enriched brand experiences that fully embrace and celebrate the diversity of our customers; offering them innovative and fulfilling ways to engage with the brand,” J.Crew told Racked via email. “We are confident this evolving direction will be something both longtime J.Crew loyalists and new customers will eagerly engage with.”
The company wouldn’t share additional details about what this new J.Crew will look like, although we can expect the lower prices and quicker turnaround on trends, its former CEO and current chair Mickey Drexler promised last year before stepping down from his executive position.
In a conference call sharing first-quarter earnings, J.Crew president and COO Michael Nicholson said the relaunch will include a new loyalty program that will be based on points. Nicholson notes that Madewell, the J.Crew sister brand that’s enjoyed outsize growth, has a loyalty program whose members spend more than the average Madewell shopper. J.Crew is looking to mimic this relationship, and Nicholson said the new J.Crew points program will be “going beyond typical incentives and rewards.”
Another part of J.Crew’s relaunch will include a “data-driven personalization engine,” according to CEO Jim Brett. This new technology sounds a whole lot like the algorithm-focused type of style matching a company like Stitch Fix uses. Nicholson did not elaborate on how it will work but said it will “create an even more relevant and engaging shopping experience.”
Brett calls 2018 a “pivotal year” for J.Crew. Its sales aren’t increasing the way Madewell’s are — those jumped a record 39 percent this quarter — but it has been working on what Nicholson calls a “transformation plan.” It’s released three new categories: intimates, a new swimwear line called Playa, and a line of old-school pieces called J.Crew Heritage.
J.Crew also recently began rolling out its lower-priced line, Mercantile, into stores and onto its website. Mercantile was launched in 2015 as a cheaper option from the brand, but it was only meant for J.Crew outlets, or at separate Mercantile stores. J.Crew tells Racked that the company is now merging Mercantile with the rest of J.Crew because the “goal is to provide a curated selection of quality fashion across styles, color ways and price points.”
Nicholson says the company will also look to “aggressively scale our wholesale business.” Could that be code for every retailer’s inevitable survival plan: teaming up with Amazon?