Blogosphere chatter in recent weeks has all signs pointing to the addition of a home line from runway prep retailer J.Crew. Could it be true? Let's explore the possibility...
In the way, way back times, I owned both a home store and a women's clothing boutique. The home shop opened first, and four years later I took over the floundering clothing store next door. Having run both of these sides of retail for the better part of a decade, I can tell you there are distinct differences between the two. For a fashion retailer wanting jump into decor, there are significant pros and cons to weigh.
So, will J.Crew expand to Home?
Yes, of course they will!
1. They'd be silly not to capitalize on their fevered fan base who drink the Crewlade by the drum and who would, by extension, desire to live a fully Crewful life.
2. Many of J.Crew's patterns would lend themselves better to home goods than to clothing. See the recently introduced floral ikat-ish Fireworks top:
Less than two weeks outta the gate and already on sale.
3. Fashion sells more quickly, but home items are returned less frequently.
No, why would they?
1. Fashion people aren't generally interiors people and vice versa. See Leandra Medine, Andrea Linett and most of the homes of Claiborne Swanson Frank's It Girl pals. When one of J.Crew's visual merchandisers (or "store decorators") was asked how to create interiors magic on a budget, she suggested turning paintings around for "texture":
via J.Crew's tumblr.
2. Home goods sell much, much more slowly than clothing. Because you can't wear your new lamp to brunch with the girls.
3. J.Crew has some internal problems looming large that need tending to first. Recently, "the company went from a net income of $35.4 million to a reported loss of $607.8 million in the span of one year." Most of that loss was centered in the women's division. Why? Quality has slipped, Creative Director Jenna Lyons hasn't been minding the store, and the newer more fashion-forward looks she champions have flopped with core customers who are, I'm convinced, the people keeping the chevron industry alive (see point #1 above).
To answer the question "Is J.Crew Home coming soon?", probably not. While J.Crew has been expanding their assortment of "smalls" (for designers, this means decorative doo-dads not a clothing size) both in-store and online, it's most likely because those items enjoy a very good mark-up and are selling well. J.Crew's CEO Mickey Drexler is schmatta merchant through and through. For a man who owns more than a half dozen homes, Drexler's only interest seems to be in acquiring them.
In the Style of Transitional Me: Leandra Medine, Man Repeller [The New York Times]
My Style: Inside Andrea Linett's Rad LES Digs [Refinery 29]
D.I.Y Decor [J.Crew tumblr.]