Is J. Crew testing the summer waters in contemplation of a return to its preppier roots?
The brand’s origins lie in a capitalizing on the preppy ’80s by offering a mail-order version of Ralph Lauren at a lower price. And throughout the ’90s and early aughts J. Crew — like those other Js, Press and McLaughlin — drew heavily on preppy style in both its merchandising and marketing imagery.
Now J. Crew has launched a “prep shoppe” on its website, which will be open “for the season” (too bad, as fall is the preppiest time of the year).
Graphics on the shop’s web page include two catalog covers from the brand’s preppier days, and copy that invokes chinos, oxford shirts, and traditional classics from the East Coast.
As for the clothing, there’s a flap pocket on a lightweight oxford sport shirt, and a classic madras tie:
Other items in the “shoppe,” however, look randomly assembled from J. Crew’s usual offerings, in a mode that is similar to what we see these days from Brooks Brothers: relatively conservative contemporary clothes-clothes in a sort of generic global style.
This, on the other hand, is pure Americana:
There are collaborations with Sperry and Lacoste, but it’s hard to tell the difference from those brand’s regular offerings:
Perhaps the most intriguing items are several grenadine ties executed in rep stripes, something I don’t recall seeing before, as we associate grenadines with solids ties, and occasionally see dotted examples. The ties use English fabric and are made in Long Island City, New York, presumably at the Brooks factory, and are priced at only $59.
Cheers to J. Crew for this nod to its roots, and we hope they will continue to champion traditional American style. It might even help their bottom line. — CC