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On J. Crew, Customer Voice


       In a piece penned by Chris DeRose for Forbes, the issue (well, now there's an issue) of J. Crew's lack of ability to stay to the raison d'etre of the brand was brought up by way of his wife's email. Ms. DeRose - to Mr. Mickey Drexler, CEO of J. Crew wrote - "I am so disheartened and disappointed that you are leaving your core values and styling and abandoning your loyal customers."
      Upon first reading, I was intrigued by the sharpness of her email, but on second reading I was almost scared. Why? Because Mr. Drexler, in a later phone conversation to Ms. DeRose, stated "I hope you see a difference this fall." That isn't to say that he doesn't stand up for the current direction of the brand; in fact the article stated clearly that Drexler stood by the need for change and evolution in the brand. I began to question Ms. DeRose's statements regarding the brand betraying the loyal customer.  Surely a "real fan" would realize that, while the brand has evolved (for the better, in my opinion), J. Crew has stayed largely loyal to its core values.
        The clothes are well-made classics that have simply been redone in a way that will increase longevity, long into the future. Sure, I acknowledge that J. Crew is not solely in the industry of modest basics or khakis anymore, but should one wish to be purchase these items, they are not hard to find in either the J. Crew catalog or on their site.
        The collection under pressure - fall 2013 - featured creased, straight leg, cropped pants in both plain colors and brocade patterns. There were great, boxy jackets, and streamlined skirts in deep, romantic floral prints, along with a variety of chunky knit scarves. Plain? Maybe not. Simple? Sure, as the color palette was muted and the silhouettes timeless. If anything, then, creative director Jenna Lyons should be commended for her ability to revitalize the brand, making it of interest to a younger generation. Even though Lyons ultimately gained her current position as Executive Creative Director just a few years ago (2010), there has already been drastic difference in the breadth and depth of J. Crew clientele. This is due in part to her contributions to the company that have gradually increased since the mid-90s.  And, logistically it makes sense. It is important to breathe new life into a company, especially when those (probably the ones complaining) won't be around forever - or much longer.
    Any which way we look at it, one thing's for sure: paying attention to customer concern goes a really, really long way.
photos: sources and seasons/collections = various

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