J. Crew Thursday reported that its sales slump is continuing, with Q1 sales falling 5.2% to $508.7 million in its flagship J. Crew brand.
The company’s lower-priced Madewell brand helped the quarter, with sales up 33%, to $61.9 million.
CEO Mickey Drexler said of the numbers, “We just made mistakes,” especially in finding the right mix of sweater merchandise, with some styles selling out and others underselling.
Drexler painted a picture of J. Crew’s “sweater problem,” which has been widely reported. He also said the retailer will return to some of its more classic sweater styles. But the retailer has been in a slump for a while, and some loyal customers — and J. Crew’s customers are extremely loyal — told the Wall Street Journal recently that the brand’s apparel hasn’t had the classic design or the quality they once expected.
"The love our customers have for us is extraordinary. I think we clearly got sloppy when you miss the fundamentals that you need to have," Drexler said.
But if that picture is accurate, the quality problem is an issue J. Crew should attend to. Many of the retailer’s biggest fans keep their clothes for decades, but are reporting recent quality issues that are turning them off. And they note that while quality appears to have lowered, the price tags haven’t followed suit. Drexler promised to bring back the retailer’s “iconic classics,” but he may also want to keep his eye on J. Crew’s quality as well.
“It’s sad because it’s a brand I love,” one customer told The Wall Street Journal. “I feel a little bit lost as to where I would even shop now.”