One of the reasons J.Crew has managed to stay on top of the retail world is the fact that they are never complacent. Through partnerships with brands with rich histories (Red Wing), and support of emerging talent (Saturdays Surf), they’ve become a generous fashion incubator, not just another retailer. For fashion brands looking to gain more market share there are a few simple steps to consider, all currently being executed, and often invented by, J.Crew: 1) bring in outside talent. No need for the drama of an H&M designer collaboration – just look for, and make a list of brands that could use a little dusting off and placing back on the shelf. Pony comes to mind. That shoe brand is a classic. Anything American made is a huge plus. 2) Revamp your store mix so each piece looks special. When you walk into J.Crew on Broadway, there’s a size run in each item and that’s about it. Suits jammed into a rack look anything but special. Make your menswear space feel intimate and don’t be afraid to downsize. 3) Overhaul your e-commerce platform. Make it simple first, mix in just the right amount of service and advice, and make sure you’re damn proud of what you’re selling. Too many menswear websites are a confusing disaster. 4) Play up the fabrics, mills and little guys. Take the items above as an example: Wallace & Barnes Billington Parka, $795. Perfect for a rainy spring day, the hood gives the jacket a smart English boarding school appeal. Irish Linen Camp Shirt, $88. The linen comes from Baird McNutt, a mill established in 1912. By highlighting where the fabric is coming from, they don’t really have to call out where the shirt is actually produced. A very smart thing. Highlight what you want to highlight. 5) Tell a story. The adjoining mood boards show that the J.Crew design team is for real and respects the rich history of the clothing manufacturing industry. And most importantly, 6) Put someone in charge. Soften the corporate identity and add ‘realness’ to the brand experience. There is no one better than Frank Muytjens, J.Crew’s head of menswear design:

Category: Fashion, Reports, Retail.

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