J. Crew is shutting down its bridal business, launched in 2004, in the face of falling sales, Business Insider reports.
Bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses are currently discounted by up to 70% online and in stores, as the retailer focuses instead “on what women like to wear to someone else’s wedding, versus what they would wear to their own,” J. Crew spokeswoman Margot Fooshee, told Bloomberg in an e-mail.
The struggling retailer is also reportedly working on restructuring its debt, speeding up its supply chain, emphasizing activewear over tailored clothing, closing stores and boosting e-commerce.
When J. Crew’s bridal effort was new a little over a decade ago, it catered to a movement by American brides that turned away from hefty splurges on dresses. Many brides were choosing simple dresses and outfitting them with family heirloom jewelry, or jewelry that might become heirlooms, lending meaning to the gown at less cost, Tom Mora, J. Crew’s chief of women’s design at the time, told the New York Times “T” magazine in 2011.
“The J.Crew bride is savvy and extremely educated about what there is in the market, whether designers, quality or details,” Mora said at the time. “In coming to us, they know that they are getting a gown that is comparable to a designer gown at a more approachable price.”
But, in June 2015, the retailer replaced Mora with Madewell head of design Somsack Sikhounmuong and laid off 175 people in its New York City headquarters. J. Crew has since been struggling with falling sales and questions over the quality of its designs and apparel.
Second quarter total revenue declined 4% down to $569.8 million amid what CEO Mickey Drexler called a "challenging traffic environment.” Its September Q2 net loss narrowed to $8.6 million, compared to $13.6 million in the year ago period. The retailer’s lower-priced Madewell brand performed better: Q2 Madewell sales rose 15% to $78.3 million, and its same-store sales increased 3%, compared to its 8% increase in the same period last year.
The retailer is reportedly contemplating major changes to survive. J. Crew Chairman and CEO Mickey Drexler is huddling with consultants at McKinsey & Co. on a strategy to turn the struggling apparel retailer around, sources with knowledge of the situation told the New York Post in October. Some of those changes were said to include emphasizing activewear over tailored clothing.