Curious as to why your favorite model is shilling for
Over the last two years, Ann Taylor has made a noticeable effort to bring its apparel and accessories offerings out of the naughts and into the new, uber-fashion-conscious decade. In fact, many industry insiders we've spoken to about AT's reformation have noted: "They're trying be J.Crew." Evidence of this marketing scheme can be found in the retailer's newfound preppy-meets-glam aesthetic. The company also recently inked a deal with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund to host a runway show in Los Angeles this October.
For the first time since 2007, Gap will have little to do with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. J.Crew is sponsoring this year's scholarship, which surely means that by next summer, J.Crew stores will be stocked with special items designed by the winners. Ann Taylor, a brand that's tried to mimic J.Crew in its styling, will fund an October fashion show in Los Angeles, where models will show off designs created for the retailer. (Remember, nominees this year include Prabal Gurung and Christian Cota, so expect to see some fabulous holiday party dresses on the runway.) It's clear that J.Crew has forked over plenty of cash to be this year's marquee sponsor. (We're talking on top of the scholarship fund.) But is it worth it? Despite the great press and great clothes that came out of the Gap/CFDA collaborations, the world's biggest retailer is struggling more than ever with its branding. (Patrick Robinson is trying to change that, and we hope that he succeeds.) However, for J.Crew, it's less about building momentum and more about sustaining it. This will only strengthen the prestigious reputation it already enjoys among fashion-savvy consumers.
J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler is working with two investment firms to take the company private, according to the New York Times' blog DealBook. This means that if the deal does indeed go through, J.Crew will be removed from the stock market and all public shareholders will be bought out. Generally, with buyouts like this, the idea is to fix the business out of public scrutiny. And eventually either sell it to someone else or take it public again. Why might J.Crew want to do this if it's thought as the leading specialty retailer in the US, if not the world? We shop there, you shop there--who doesn't think it's a brilliant store? Well, despite a transformation in recent years, thanks to Drexler and protege Jenna Lyons, sales have been slower in 2010, dropping for the last two fiscal quarters. Separately, we've heard from sources within the company that while men's sales have continued to rise at a rapid pace, women's have been stunted as of late. What does this mean for your shopping experience? Probably not much.