Jenna Lyons' offbeat, quirky vision for J.Crew may have been beloved by the fashion crowd, but it was also often seen as the reason for one of the retailer's biggest problem points: Prices were just too high for the brand's once-mass audience. (Its namesake collections, which are introduced during New York Fashion Week, normally start at $98 and can go upwards of $995.) But since Lyons exited the company last month, CEO Mickey Drexler wants to rid the retailer of the out-of-reach reputation it's garnered — and, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, that means bringing (back) prices down.
"We became a little too elitist in our attitude," the 72-year-old executive admitted to the paper. In response to discouraging sales figures and a rapidly-changing retail landscape, as he characterized it in a statement last month after J.Crew announced profits and job cuts, Drexler explained that he is now focusing on lowering the brand's price bracket — a strategy that's being applied to approximately 300 of its current products. In order to do that, he told WSJ that he's building a team with the express purpose of "optimizing prices for each garment." What's more, J.Crew will be growing its supply base, which is currently sourced mostly from China, to cut costs and expedite the production-to-retail timeline.
"We’re being much more competitive in our pricing," Drexler explained to WSJ. "We’re not going to allow our competitors to take from us." He pointed to the retailer's attempt at a more fashion-forward aesthetic — one of Lyons most significant and critically-lauded contributions to the brand — as a contributing factor to its financial issues. "We gave a perception of being a higher-priced company than we were — in our catalog, online, and in our general presentation," the executive said. "Very big mistake."
The CEO didn't offer specifics as to which categories are being affected by those price cuts, but customers may have noticed these already being implemented during recent visits to the brand's 460 brick-and-mortar locations. This announcement comes six months after J.Crew confirmed it would discontinue its beloved bridal line. (A Ready-To-Party section was introduced to fill that void to some extent.)
"We’re getting back to being who we are," Drexler told WSJ regarding the brand's new direction under Somsack Sikhounmuong: Expect the brand's offerings to be "much more comfortable, approachable, democratic and friendly." Will it succeed? We'll have to wait — and shop — to find out.