J. Crew confirmed late Wednesday that it has laid off 175 people from its New York City headquarters.
In a shake-up, Madewell head of design Somsack Sikhounmuong is replacing women’s design chief Tom Mora and Madewell's new head of design will be Joyce Lee, who’s been with the brand's design team.
About a year ago Japan’s Fast Retailing was considering a purchase of privately held J. Crew, but decided that J. Crew asking price was too dear.
That may be true these days for its customers, too, including even its most loyal fans, who say they find the quality of the clothing no longer matches its somewhat hefty price tags.
This effort will help the company reduce costs and perhaps bring efficiencies to operations, but the retailer must decide if its reputation for quality is worth the expense that entails. Though J. Crew can learn some lessons from its lower-priced Madewell brand — its bringing over Sikhounmuong testifies to that — it likely behooves the company to keep the two brands differentiated.
"We are making meaningful and strategic changes across our organization to better position us for future growth. While many of these decisions were difficult, they are necessary," J.Crew CEO Millard Drexler said in a statement. "With Somsack in his new role, we will continue to focus on making critical improvements to our J. Crew women’s assortment including fit, design aesthetic and styling. We know what needs to be done and while many of these initiatives take time, we have a committed team in place to make it happen."