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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is J.Crew Home coming soon?


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":


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.

D.I.Y Decor [J.Crew tumblr.]

9 comments:

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

Zara home has been doing well considering and perhaps they might take on that model? C Wonder fell flat and shows it is hard to be a store that covers all bases but then all it takes is a few executives to give it a gung ho with a power point presentation. But don't you think nowadays retail has to have a presence in every sector otherwise it is seen as a non entity?

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

If the financials aren't solid I doubt they will do it but we've seen dumber things happen, like turning paintings around.

Debra Phillips said...

the entire concept, under the circumstances, sounds like a hail mary

2 stores raina? you have stories to tell.......

Charlotte Skinner said...

They'll have to come out strong with something unique for the marketplace while still in keeping with their classic traditional style. Oooooh, the whole "turned around artwork" drives me absolutely crazy!!!
That being said, I'm a Crewlade drinker but only if it's on mega sale:)
Great post!

Charlotte
Simplylovedesign.blogspot.com

Raina Cox said...

Coulda Shoulda Woulda - I think single category retailers can still make a name for themselves IF they are singular in their vision.

The one retailer that does a flat-out amazing job with clothing and home is Anthropologie. Its aesthetic is very identifiable, for better or for worse.

Since our access to Zara Home and H&M Home is so limited in the U.S., it's hard for me to comment on their influence.

Raina Cox said...

Debra Phillips - To quote Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bülow: "You have no idea."

ita darling. said...

gah. I only shop J.Crew on sale.. Their stuff does not have the quality to justify price. ANd then there is their "outlet and Warehouse" model which drives me nuts.. even lower quality crap made only for those stores.. meh. What would a JCREW house look like? I think Jenna Lyons style is so all over the map- it would have like a St. James duvet cover and neon yellow sequined throw pillows and black velvet upholestered head-board. or some such malarky... While I never owned my own store, I did work in retail for a LONG time.. Williams-Sonoma/Pottery Barn and Urban/Anthropologie to name the biggies.. you are never the same about buying/shopping ever again!

ita darling. said...

Also just fell into the link hole of the fashion people's houses.. yeesh. I think the Selby and the Coveteur have done a great job demonstrating that *some* fashion folks can dress a house too...

and LOL> Crewlade.

David said...

I'm late here but I'm interested in what you think. I'm kind of tired of brands trying to be all things because it's so difficult to do well.

If you're going to make jeans, just make really great jeans. Don't make shoes too. I'm not buying your sneaker, that's what Converse is for. Refine your cuts, vary your washes, I'll keep buying your jeans.