J.Crew has been showing signs of trouble for a few years now, but just recently major changes have been made. Jenna Lyons, the president and executive creative director for women’s apparel stepped down in April. Mickey Drexler, CEO for 14 years, relinquished his position as of early June. These moves beg the question of what went wrong? The biggest mistake J.Crew made in all aspects of their company was losing touch with their customers. The brand gained popularity in a time when people were not as attentive to prices as they are now. J.Crew had a reputation for accessible high fashion, but slowly lost grasp of their accessibility and their fashion.
Customers would come to J.Crew for good fashion at good prices, but when the prices began to grow, shoppers went online and to find comparable products elsewhere. Mickey Drexler admitted himself that they increased prices at a time when customers were cost conscious; they became too elite. J.Crew also failed to notice the damage until it was too late. By the time they had realized their mistakes, the brand was in too deep. In a move to try and resurface, they added major discounts to their website which ruined their credibility of providing well-made clothes. Pricing was a huge problem for J.Crew, but it was not the only stitch in their side.
J.Crew’s designs stopped being fashionable and no longer appealed to their audience. Pieces were over the top and more likely to be seen on a runway rather than in an office. They were not only producing clothes that were too eccentric for their usual customer but clothes that were not practical. Their styling showed an obvious lack of connection with shoppers. J.Crew already seemed detached from customers based on their prices, but their style guides, which had worked so well for the brand in the past, began to fall through. In an era when people have so many options available to them, customers like to make their own decisions. The elite and preppy lifestyle J.Crew emanated was no longer attractive and neither were the clothes.
J.Crew has a lot to learn from this experience, as do retailers as a whole. Businesses must always be aware of their customers; without them, they would have nothing. Stores need to understand their customers’ wants and needs. Retailers should not raise prices when shoppers are looking for deals. Stores should also know what their customers are looking for and provide them with that. Customer tastes, styles, and priorities shift over time. As retailers, it’s important to keep up. Just because your products and delivery are successful now, doesn’t mean they will continue to be. J.Crew and all retailers need to listen to shoppers and adapt to changing needs.