Filing for bankruptcy sounds like a death knell for any brand, but that's simply not the case. There are several ways to go about bankruptcy and the two main ways are liquidation and restructuring. Essentially, if a brand wants to stay in business, they go through restructuring to manage its debts, restructure the company and continue in the hopes of getting out of the hole. But if a brand wants to throw in the towel — liquidation. That's when you get going-out-of-business sales.
The brand started actually started in 1947 and was known as Popular Merchandise, Inc. and sold women's clothes through its store, Popular Club Plan. In the 1980s, it saw huge growth in its catalog business, selling millions of dollars worth of clothes in the vain of Ralph Lauren with a smaller price tag.
The brand continued its success and jumped from the page to brick and mortar in 1989 in downtown Manhattan. Since then, J.Crew has opened hundreds of stores across the U.S., and became the go-to destination for men's style in the late 2000s through the mid-2010s, thanks to Frank Muytjens and Todd Snyder, among others.
The modern-day prep aesthetic was mixed with flavors of workwear and outdoorsman lifestyles, inspiring legions of men to care more about fashion. Trim suits were paired with knit ties and gingham shirts, slim-fit chinos and capped with vintage-inspired Nike's. They mixed Red Wings with selvedge jeans and Barbour jackets. They re-wrapped these heritage brands in a modern context and introduced many men to niche brands like Alden, Chimala, and Anonymous Ism. Its own in-house take on workwear, Wallace & Barnes, also saw success for its range of chore coats and Japanese denim.
Though many flocked to J.Crew in its last wave of popularity have noted that the brand has seen its heyday, the future of J.Crew is still not set. Post-pandemic, we may still see J.Crew stores peddling Madras button-ups and brogues once again. But if that doesn't happen, there are still other places you can shop to get you the same fix.
It's clear that J.Crew took cues from Ralph Lauren. If you're looking for a one-to-one brand that offers the same range of goods that J.Crew does, Ralph may be the best brand to pivot to. They've clearly got the Ivy aesthetic with its button-down shirts, chinos and loafers. But Ralph also has its military and workwear streaks peppered throughout the collection, not to mention its indigo-soaked rugged line, RRL.
If you're looking for another brand that's one-to-one, Gap is a great alternative at a similar price point. While Ralph may be the source for many, its higher prices drove customers to places like J.Crew and Gap. Gap is known for its khakis, jeans and t-shirts, for sure, but they've also got a range of workwear-inspired goods that could scratch that itch. And, with the recent announcement of its partnership with Kanye West, the brand could see itself reinvigorated with an elevated casual look at a pricepoint that's familiar to the Gap customer.
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An industry veteran, designer Todd Snyder has worked for big names like Ralph Lauren and Gap. He also was instrumental in J.Crew's success when he joined the brand in 2004. So if you liked J.Crew's designs and cuts anywhere from 2004 to 2009, you like Todd Snyder. His eponymous brand hits all the notes that J.Crew fans look for: tailored suits, cozy sweaters, niche third-party brands, Aldens, and more.
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Hot on the heels of J.Crew's slump, Uniqlo's enjoyed great success since expanding its international market and opening its first U.S. store in 2005. The brand may generally lean more minimalist, or even somewhat hype (thinking of its range of graphic tees), Uniqlo is a go-to destination for solid basics as well as anticipated collabs with notable designers like JW Anderson.
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