Many retail stores issue credit cards which further serve to reinforce their brand name. J. Crew does this. The initial offer, if you qualify for their credit card, is 10% discounted from your first purchase. Ten percent is really only a bit above sales tax, but a discount is a discount. I filled out the paperwork, simple in today’s world & ended up with a middle initial that is not mine. That took more time to fix than my actual shopping & looking around for items to photograph. One unsettling visual is the use of two logos. For a brand that is attempting to retain a loyalty-based shopping group, it seems a bit pulled in two directions, one logo being presented via simple, Latin-alphabet, block letters; the other logo is closer to cursive writing. This second effort seems to want to distance itself from the stronger & bolder simplicity of the J. Crew type font, the one that appears on the outside signage, the credit card, and the shopping bag. For this store, this brand, one logo, is enough, and to add the less distinctive, “softer” form diminishes the original & leaves a message of identity indecisiveness.
Despite the strangeness of being assigned a middle initial that I do not have, the staff were quite nice & certainly apologetic for this blip that seemed to be no one’s fault.
As things turned out, they did not fix the issue, and the robot prevailed. I am still, days later, after being assured that the problem had been fixed, in possession of their credit card which has reference to this randomly assigned middle initial. How they will deal with this may turn into another installment. Today, 22 September 2013-I presented myself in person just to address this issue a final time, being told that a new card, sans middle initial, would be issued. It would seem that a manual override would be one method of correcting such errors. But thinking simply often does not translate into the digital world of today (which is certainly not all it is cracked up to be!).
J. Crew is a nice store, a bit pricey for my day-to-day needs, but in order to learn more about a brand that became part of a class assignment, it seemed to behoove me to get acquainted with the style & the pace of the store.
Finding it was a bit problematic, the design layout of the upper floors of Westfield Centre, are not easy to navigate, and probably one of the reasons I don’t venture very far from the food court. Only a robot would love the layout of Westfield Centre. I do shudder to think what might happen in the event of a true emergency, getting all of those people out in an orderly fashion–a digression not to be taken lightly. But, find it I did & what follows is a bit of photo-journalism, reflecting my impressions of the experience.
Simple & straight forward type font, easy to read. It could say ‘understated’ in parentheses–@ least that was first impression.
Despite limitations of a small point & click camera, you can see that the simple & straight forward theme & concept is carried out in their other business to consumer messages in terms of how they present their brand persona.
Personally, I wish the use of the word Autumn would return to the culture. Till then, it’s FAST FORWARD TO FALL!
At this point, I have not even entered the store, simply seeking out what messages this company, this brand, is sending to me. J. Crew member, Yes or No?
The visual imagery presented here is crafts scissors, spools of thread & sewing needle, monumental in size. The idea that comes through is that the clothing is hand-made, using the most basic & time honoured methods.
Still outside, looking in–before taking the leap.
My photographic quality is not quite where I want it to be: So, the bottom line says “Quality worth waiting for, but you won’t have to.”
So, at this point the message that I am getting from the store window is one that tells me that I am about to enter an environment where upscale clothing awaits me in a casual setting, one that is enhanced by reminders of classic & vintage symbols from earlier eras-a poster from Let’s Get Lost, a documentary about the late Chet Baker, is the beginning of our shopping experience.
Poster from the 1988 documentary about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker–looking back to an earlier era @ J. Crew.
The monumental pin cushion seen in the store window, is reinforced by duplication of several functional sized models, at eye-level places throughout the store.
Art books such as this one, are used as decorative pieces in the San Francisco Westfield Centre outlet.
The signals sent out by the store design & decoration are Janus-like in nature, looking two directions at once, to the future & referencing the past. While their online presence seems to be striking out in a direction that is a departure from the classic business wear they have been known for, the clothing & the design elements in the actual store look more to the past.
An Italian typewriter, manufactured well before the digital age, adds a splash of colour & a glimpse of the past in a 21st Century store seeking it’s identity as a brand.
There was Woodstock the Festival & Woodstock the typewriter, both long ago & far away, both references to the past.
There is nothing wrong with the ties, if you want to get lost. If you want style, something that defines a person who wants more from life, you will need to face the side of Janus that looks to the future.
More mixed signals from J Crew–The sofa looks like a bedbug outlet. The rug is a beauty, but I’d be scared to take it home next to a couch that looks as if it were left on the streets! Scary!
Omission of the scary couch allows the viewer to focus on the shoes, which look casual & inviting. Something one could bring into one’s home.
Researching their website & other online resources indicated that J. Crew is attempting to become a global presence. Will they, like Sherwin Williams paints, cover the earth?
A word without boundaries is what this global view projects.
Understated, not complicated, that is the Branding persona of J. Crew.
The bag with the simple logo, without embellishment–contents ready-to-wear.
CODA: If J. Crew can live up the the standards presented in the You Tube Holy Jackets, they will retain their loyal base without needing to dilute quality. The Holy Jacket will become their Holy Grail. Ciao