I'm not sure why I find it so gripping - maybe it's because J. Crew is a real fixture among academics, and most of my peer-aged friends are either graduate students or professors. J. Crew, if you were wondering, has actually been in decline for the last several years. A combination of design mistakes (mostly former creative director Jenna Lyons' fault) and declining fabric and production quality has contributed to turning away dedicated fans of the brand.
But there really is a need for J. Crew's products: reasonable quality, business-y goods with an eye toward contemporary cuts, colors, and styles.
The problem is that J. Crew produces most of its goods in sweatshops in some of the world's poorest countries. Paired with increasing quality issues (their cashmere, for instance, simply does not hold up), it's no longer a viable choice for discerning consumers, whether their primary interest is labor ethics or simply long-lasting goods.
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