Has J.Crew followed the CSI model, and now we have J.Crew: Canal Street and J.Crew:H&M?
September 26, 2010 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Is "J.Crew factory" the quality of J. Crew or the quality of J.Crew outlet?

We went to one of those outlet malls, expecting to find great deals on end-of-season items and the like, but were horrified to discover that capitalism has factored deadstock into its branding strategy and was now manufacturing cheaper quality goods specifically for their outlet stores. If I remember correctly, there was not a single actual J.Crew item in the J.Crew store, just cheaper quality versions. It was apparent quickly: the fabric and even design of the clothing gave it away. When we looked closely at the tags, there were weird marks below the brand name to signify that it was from the outlet store.
Now J.Crew is promoting their new J.Crew factory store with weekend sales, but discerning shoppers need to know: real J.Crew or crap knock-offs? I wouldn't care as much, but I got a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket and need new clothes. If J.Crew factory is the cheaper knock-offs, how often do the real stores have sales?
posted by history is a weapon to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This has been going on for a long time.

Gap/Banana Republic have perfected it.

You get the look but not the quality.

My hypothesis is that web sales eliminate the need to have outlets. Plus (at least where my SO has done apparel business planning), there are shrewd understocking plans and reallocating goods to markets where they sell better.
posted by k8t at 9:42 AM on September 26, 2010

No, it's all real J Crew stuff. I went in Maine, but they didn't have any nice sweaters in my size (Extra Medium)
posted by parmanparman at 9:43 AM on September 26, 2010

J.Crew-proper always has something on sale, and they usually have free shipping promo codes active also. If you go to a brick and mortar store, there's usually a section in the back with stuff on clearance. The selection of items on clearance in the stores usually sucks though. And sometimes, things will be on sale online, but not yet in the store.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 9:47 AM on September 26, 2010

I worked at J.Crew about 7 years ago. Markdown day was Tuesday.
posted by k8t at 9:54 AM on September 26, 2010

The J. Crew Factory website tells you what you need to know:

The style and quality you love... designed exclusively for Factory.

Also, if you look at their store locator, it seems to have at least 40 "factory" stores.

There are true outlet stores in the world, but most of them aren't located in the dozens of "factory outlet malls" scattered across the country. (And I don't think this is a new thing, by the way.)

I don't know how you actually find them. Sometimes retailers send their sale stuff to places like Marshall's and TJMaxx (with the label cut out or marked over).
posted by bluedaisy at 10:07 AM on September 26, 2010

Best answer: Yep, J. Crew Factory is the online parallel to the brick and mortar outlets. So the merchandise lines are the same lower quality you'd find at the outlets (but probably optimized for what sells best to their web customers).

Here's a note about the SEC filing that J. Crew made about its J. Crew Factory intentions a few years ago.

And here's an informative piece from the WSJ, which covers the J. Crew Factory roll out last month.
posted by superfem at 10:29 AM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster:
"J. Crew, like most speciality retailers, manufactures merchandise specifically for its factory channel. It's a different model than that of many apparel manufacturers and department stores, which use their off-price channel to liquidate excess merchandise." - WSJ Article linked above
Thanks everyone for playing, but Superfem, you have won today's awesome.
posted by history is a weapon at 10:43 AM on September 26, 2010

I ran into this horrifying phenomenon last time I was home. I used to like outlets because I hate shopping and can get everything I need, cheap, in one place. My wife likes shopping. It's not just J.Crew. Brooks Brothers does this too (I believe it's 4-6-7 on the label that marks it as shoddy fabrics forced into BB patterns).
posted by Ghidorah at 11:38 AM on September 26, 2010

Just to butt in, Ralph Lauren outlets don't do this--the merch is the same as in sold in the stores.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:16 PM on September 26, 2010

The Brooks Brothers Outlet stuff is labeled 346, not 467. I have one Brooks Brothers "346" tie along with a bunch of ties from the regular stores, and I can identify the 346 tie from across the room...

I pretty much avoid outlets because of this issue. A small number of companies still have legitimate outlet stores, and some of the others do get a small amount of regular merchandise in their stores, but it's become more trouble than it's worth to sort it out.
posted by sharding at 12:51 PM on September 26, 2010

I ordered things from J.Crew Factory last weekend. The sizes seem bigger than the regular J.Crew. I ordered my usual size and 2/3 tops were swimming on me. The quality seems fine. I used to shop a lot at Target for my clothes, so my standards aren't as I (this stuff was definitely much better quality than that, though).
posted by elpea at 4:22 PM on September 26, 2010

Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy (All the same company) Factory stores have three small diamonds on the label, directly under the name of the store. This denotes the items were specifically made for the outlet store, rather than being off-season, discounted, or second merchandise from the regular stores.

I'm sure J.Crew has a way to identify their factory items as well.

I ordered my usual size and 2/3 tops were swimming on me. The quality seems fine. - elpea

Items made especially for the outlets tend to adhere to the rules of "Vanity Sizing" and be larger than the size indicated. The same holds true for items at Wal-Mart. People will buy more if they think they wear a Medium in your brand, not knowing they're really a Large in other brands.
posted by aristan at 4:36 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

My last order from J.Crew included two pair of chinos from the regular site and two pair from the Factory site. The good news is that you can combine the orders to hit the minimum order for free shipping - the bad news is that the Factory chinos aren't finished nearly as well and made with cotton that's much lighter-weight. For me, that's worth $25 savings ($34.50 vs. $59.50), because the Classic Fit chinos fit me better than anything else I've found.
posted by brozek at 7:35 PM on September 26, 2010

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