Dive Brief:

  • J. on Wednesday is opening a men’s store in the Dumbo neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, a thriving, trendy commercial district.
  • The location has a Fellow Barber barbershop and an assortment of grooming products as well as J. Crew’s Ludlow suit and men’s collection. It also includes a variety of local brands across fashion, home and grooming, among them American Heirloom, Brooklyn Candle Studio, Druthers and Only NY, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
  • In other company news, sibling brand Madewell has followed J. Crew in launching a new standard of sizing, offering customers denim in sizes 23 to 37 and dresses, knits, sweaters, tops and jackets in sizes XXS to 3X, according to another press release emailed to Retail Dive.

Dive Insight:

J. Crew’s new Dumbo location is at Empire Stores, a former tobacco warehouse that was among the first projects undertaken by the developers that grabbed a swath of neglected industrial buildings late in the 20th century and forged what is now one of Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods.

Its opening marks yet another move by a major retailer to open a stand-alone men’s store. Among others, Nordstrom earlier this year debuted its new New York flagship with a 47,000 square-foot, three-level store on 57th Street and Broadway dedicated to men only. Lululemon’s men-only stores are part of its growth strategy to expand through men’s sales. And even luxury resale upstart The RealReal is dedicating a significant chunk of its new West Coast flagship to men.

Both J. Crew and Madewell, meanwhile, are turning to what until recently has been a neglected market by producing apparel in more sizes, fits and washes. J. Crew last month unveiled a collection with Universal Standard, a women’s apparel brand specializing in inclusive sizes, for summer and fall. Madewell is similarly “working closely with third party fit experts” to create the extended sizes. “This is part of our larger initiative to reinvent the standard of fit to reflect the real, diverse spectrum of the American customer,” the company said in a press release.

All pieces will be available online, and certain styles will be in select Madewell stores through its “Dot Com Try On program,” where customers can try on clothes in the store and place an order with a store associate. Shipping is free for all in-store and online customers who join a free loyalty program.

This past spring, Madewell introduced denim in sizes 33 to 35 and new fits like The Curvy Jean, part of an effort put forth by executives earlier this year to grow the denim-focused brand as quickly as possible. Executives are keen on that because, while newer, fresher Madewell is resonating with consumers more than its flagship sibling is, it’s also much smaller and isn’t moving the sales needle much in the aggregate.

The strategy is also clear from the company’s real estate tactics: Last year, it opened eight Madewell stores, one J. Crew location and one J. Crew factory store even as it shuttered 51 units. CFO Vincent Zanna earlier this year confirmed similar plans for this year, noting the company was looking to open 10 Madewell stores and one J. Crew store, while closing 20 stores.



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