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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trickle Down Fashionomics

Upon moseying into the J Crew in Georgetown two weekends ago, I made a startling discovery. Amidst the pre-fall inventory of blazers, light jackets, and cashmere sweaters I spotted the new "Downtown Field Jacket" and realized that the trickle down effect of J. Crew had struck yet again.
Much as Pottery Barn took coral from the realm of the boutique to being accessible at every mall in America last year, so J. Crew has the irksome habit of doing the same thing with beloved types of clothing that once took a little effort to find and often a little nerve to wear. Don't get me wrong- the MoS girls love them some J. Crew and their clothes are the foundations of both our closets- but we have been noticing this J. Crew effect for years, especially with classic men's clothing. Let's have a look.
Case in point- I have had my eye on the Barbour utility jacket for a while now; it seems a little more city-friendly than the Bedale I currently own and love. But now, I'm afraid I won't be the only one with this style:
Left: Barbour Utility Jacket; Right: J Crew Downtown field jacket
And to my amazement, it looks like J Crew is even pairing with Barbour to sell some of their coats, which were formerly available only at Orvis and more boutique outdoor clothing stores. So much for exclusivity. Sigh.
Barbour Bedale via J Crew
Remember the days when embroidered pants could only be purchased at specialty men's clothing stores? And how a man with whales on his pants was regarded as either totally crazy, totally effeminate, or totally badass depending upon the viewer? But these days, the ubiquity of J Crew critter pants sort of ruins the mystique.
Same with madras pants. While once men had to track them down, now they are just a mouseclick away.
Left: Madras Pants from Cape Madras; Right: J Crew Classic fit sun bleached madras pants
Not to mention J Crew has slapped madras on the most random types of clothing. Madras plus cargo pants seems like the worst combination since peanut butter and pickles, doesn't it?
Above: J Crew Madras Board Shorts
After successfully brining back Wayfarers, which now everyone and their brother seems to own (including me), Ray Ban has recenty revived the Clubmaster style sunglasses and you can buy them from the J Crew website. We love this 80's throwback, but we hope they don't become as ubiquitous as Wayfarers did.
J Crew also loves putting its own spin on classic shoes. While Rainbows have become pretty overexposed on their own (and again, I'm a Rainbow owner, so I'm not immune from judgment), I'm sure that J Crew's knockoff did not help the situation.
Left: Rainbow Sandals; Right: J Crew Nubuck Flip Flops
Back in my college days, the Clarks Wallabee was the ultimate slightly-crunchy, slightly preppy, non-mainstream shoe for guys. But J Crew has also put their own spin on this classic.
Left: Clarks Wallabees, Middle: J Crew Suede McAlister Boots; Right: J Crew Sydney Shoes
J Crew has also partnered with some classic shoe companies to sell their own "distressed" version of shoes that are preppy staples. While I understand the desire for broken-in shoes that look like they've survived years of leisurely persuits, I'm not sure if paying extra for broken in shoes is the right solution. It just seems inauthentic, no?
Left: Jack Purcells, Zappos; Right: J Crew Jack Purcell Distressed Sneakers
Do you agree that certain items lose their cache once going mainstream? Have you noticed anything that has lost it exclusivity since going from the specialty store to the J Crew version?


mamacita said...

I do feel you, esp. about the Barbour jackets.

Dickie said...

This topic gives me sartorial heartburn. All the classics that make the foundation of my wardrobe have been knocked off by Jcrew and others. Such is life, we perserve and eventually what is a trend right now will fade the classic will perserve.

Speaking of pants, I blogged about them this morning. Check it out!

Style Redux 2 said...

The democratization of preppiness-is nothing sacred? LOL

Eclectic said...

As much as I love J. Crew...I totally, totally agree! I about died when Pottery Barn started mass producing "antique" dough bowls and Turkish pots. Two things I love to use in my client's homes because they are such well crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces.

DAM said...

Update: When I received an email this morning announcing another "JCrew" classic I thought about this post.

JCrew creates their own version, sells it, then switches it out with the original, my assumption after proving to the manufacturer they can support sales.

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