Over the years, J.Crew has always been one of my go-to retailers for classic wardrobe staples. Their clothing has an effortless way of combining sophistication and timelessness, yet still feeling casual and laid back. Because of this unique combination, their clothing can appeal to a variety of generations. In today’s post, we’re diving into the question, “Is J.Crew good quality?” Plus I’m sharing some of my favorite pieces from J.Crew.
Is J.Crew Good Quality?
When it comes to fashion, quality is more important to me than quantity. I’d rather have 10 to 20 staple items in my wardrobe that I can mix and match several different ways, than 100+ pieces that are so-so quality.
I want to LOVE every single item in my closet that I want to grab for again and again. This not only helps get your money’s worth out of the piece, but also helps cut down on clutter.
J.Crew seems to always deliver on the quality, in my experience. There are several different ways you can determine if the quality is there in a piece of clothing. The first is examining the percentages of textiles used.
For example, if you’re purchasing a cashmere sweater, is the sweater made of 100 percent cashmere? Or is it a blend? Then look at the price and see if the textile percentage is reflected in the price.
Another great way to determine quality is simply touching it and trying it on. Does it fit like a glove? Is it soft and comfortable to wear and move in? Sometimes the fit test is the best way to decide on quality. In my experience, J.Crew sweaters, coats and pants not only feel comfortable, but look amazing when you wear them too.
What Is J.Crew?
The company was founded in 1947 by Mitchell Cinader and Saul Charles under the name Popular Merchandise, Inc., doing business as Popular Club Plan. Popular Merchandise, Inc. sold low-priced women’s apparel through in-home demonstrations.
The company targeted upper-middle class customers with its clothing designs inspired mostly by Ralph Lauren but at a more affordable price point.
In 1983, Popular Merchandise Inc. became J.Crew and mailed its first catalog. Remember those??
Cinader told the New York Times that during the mid-1980s, J.Crew was growing by “25 to 30 percent a year.” (fundinguniverse.com)
Mickey Drexler became the CEO in 2003, coming from the Gap. He took J.Crew to the next level and introduced the Ludlow suit – a slim-cut silhouette.
Jenna Lyons was a pioneer for leveling up women’s fashion designs at J.Crew. In 2003, Jenna was J.Crew’s Vice President of Women’s Designs. She and Mickey Drexler worked hand in hand.
By 2010, she was promoted to president of the company while still remaining the executive creative director.
But it hasn’t been always been a fashion fairytale for this New York City-headquartered company.
In 2011, Drexler arranged a buyout for J.Crew to become a private company. With this exchange, came huge debts. In 2014, J.Crew had a net loss of more than a half a billion dollars. Drexler left the company in 2019.
In May 2020, J.Crew filed for bankruptcy, due in large part to the pandemic. However, according to Business Insider, in February 2020, the company was already $1.7 billion in debt.
With the bankruptcy filing, J.Crew was able to put $1.65 billion of its debt into equity and received $400 million from lenders.
During this time, Jan Singer was the CEO of J.Crew, and was only with the brand from February to September of 2020. She was previously the CEO of Victoria Secret and Spanx.
After the tumultuous year of 2020, Libby Wadle was hired to take Singer’s place as the CEO in November 2020. She’s been with the company for almost two decades, and was previously the CEO of Madewell – a sister brand of J.Crew.
J.Crew also brought on Brendon Babenzien, founder of menswear brand, Noah, as J.Crew’s creative director for men’s design. J.Crew also hired Olympia Gayot, previously J.Crew’s design director, as head of women’s and kids’ design.
In its quest to modernize, J.Crew is also cutting back on store openings and, instead, focusing more on better-experience stores. According to Business Insider, 70 percent of J.Crew’s retail sales are online.
Babenzien and Gayot are focusing the brand on incorporating more high-end fabrics like cashmere and moleskin, and modernizing the J.Crew designs of the past.
I love the idea the J.Crew is getting back to its roots in quality fabrics with more accessible price points for luxury-style clothing.
Best J.Crew Items
Below are a few of my favorite J.Crew pieces. Each are a wardrobe staple that will last season after season and can be mixed and matched with each other to create a variety of outfits.
The Chateau Parka is one of my favorite pieces from J.Crew because it’s the perfect everyday coat to wear throughout the winter. It comes in four other colors and made of 80 percent wool, so you’ll stay warm without having too much bulk from the coat. The faux fur part of the hood is removable and love how effortlessly chic it is.
The high-rise Cameron pant in four-season stretch is a classic workwear pant that can be styled with a variety of tops. This pair comes in varying lengths from classic, petite and tall and in sizes 00 to 24. They’re a super-flattering, machine-washable pant that will never let you down.
Every wardrobe should have a sheath dress, and this Resume Dress in stretch linen is such a great option. The cap sleeves give you that ever-so-slight coverage that you might need at the office, but they don’t feel restrictive. This also comes in black and hits right at or slightly below the knee. The linen fabric makes it a great option to wear all year round.
This cozy oversized cashmere wrap has been a great staple for this fall and winter so far. I’ve worn it as a scarf, wrap and shawl and love how versatile it is. It makes a great travel layer too and easily packable. Comes in a variety of colors too!
These cashmere-blend socks keep your feet warm without being too thick that your boots feel too tight. The ribbing detail is pretty to have peeking out over your boots, if you wear these with Uggs or snow boots. They also come in two other neutral colors.
J.Crew is known for their well-made blazers. This Willa Tuxedo Blazer is a great option for the winter months because it’s 100 percent wool. It features a cinched-in waist and would look cute paired with jeans or trousers.
A cashmere sweater is another piece that J.Crew is known for. It’s well made and fits like a glove. You can wear it by itself or layer it over a collared shirt to dress it up a bit. It comes in several other colors and made of 100 percent cashmere. This is a sweater you’ll have in your closet for years to come, if you care for it properly.
This Italian leather skinny belt is a versatile accessory you can pair with jeans, trousers or dresses. I love pairing a cardigan with a dress and then layering this type of belt over the top to bring more structure to the look. This belt comes in two other colors.
This white poplin shirt looks gorgeous styled on its own with black leggings or skinny denim jeans. It’s made of 100 percent organic cotton, so it’s breathable and comfortable to wear.
I couldn’t talk about J.Crew without including the Juliette cardigan. This has been one of my favorite pieces to wear this season because it’s easy to style with denim jeans, white jeans and trousers. I wrote a full review about the cardigan and how it fits HERE.
J.Crew had its share of hardships, especially throughout the pandemic. However, with the new leadership in place, I think they’re really focusing on getting back to their roots, which is making well-made clothing at a more accessible price point. I’m looking forward to seeing how the brand evolves in the future.