Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Rip off Britain - J Crew opens in London

Unless you've been under a rock, you've probably heard that US mail order and retail shop, J. Crew is opening 3 flagship stores in London and one on Regent Street a few weeks ago.

I had read about J. Crew's arrival in the UK in several of the usual glossy mags. Anticipation was high.

Apparently, J. Crew is best known as Michelle Obama's favourite shop. Of course, I haven't lived in the US for 8 years, so to me, I still remember J. Crew as a preppy brand that was great for the basics - jumpers and staples of the wardrobe (well, if you were middle class and need a rainbow of cashmere in your closet). I had noticed over the years that the prices seemed to go up and up and I was only ever picking up items in the sales, if at all. Oh, and I also did like their online selection of swimsuits, even if they were a bit pricey - $80 for a bikini is expensive, isn't it?

Anyway, I had mixed feelings hearing that J. Crew was coming to the UK. Would it be good news? Or would it invariably suck?

I was kinda assuming it would suck. Looking at other US companies when they come to the UK, such as Banana Republic or Abercrombie and Fitch, we've seen that the UK prices are usually a total rip off. Often, there are generally less items available in the UK branches (when you look at the UK versus US websites) or the UK just gets the old US stock. (Actually, maybe that sounds harsh, I actually really like BR in the UK... however I haven't bought anything from A&F in the UK in years and don't think I will again).

And guess, what? Yep, apparently the UK prices for J Crew are almost double the US prices. What a load of crap! It's already completely overpriced in the US, but seriously trying to sell it at double in the UK? What do you take us for? Ugh.

It's rare I agree with the Daily Mail, but they posted a story on how the new London shop (and website) were a major rip off.

From the Daily Mail: Shoppers shocked as Michelle Obama's favourite brand J Crew lands in UK... at double the price!
No thanks, J. Crew, no thanks!

But, my dissatisfaction with J. Crew in the UK isn't limited to their prices.

They posted me a catalogue to announce they were coming to the UK. It was one of the mags that tries to target both men and women in one book, by having one of those flip it over and read it the other way (sorry, that's the worst explanation for that from someone who works in publishing. I cringe at myself).

Honestly, I wasn't too impressed. It reeked of 'trying too hard' and 'misreading your audience' or maybe they're after an audience that isn't me. Funny, I used to be their audience.

Firstly, the men's shop has a private men's entrance. Seriously? What is this the 1920s? I also found it vaguely insulting how much of the men's half was devoted to suits and what is clearly serious work wear, while the woman's side featuring girls looking, well, kinda flightly and frivolous. Where were the business women dressed smart in J Crew's quality clothing? Oh wait, that's right, the suits and serious stuff is for the men, you girls can have some cute colourful outfits to suit your silly personality. Hmmm..

Overall, I'm not impressed.

How about you?
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