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J.Crew launches marketplace and debuts diversity campaign

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

Sep 13, 2018

The fanfare this week may have seen all the noise reverberate around New York fashion week, but collegiate brand J.Crew launched a new online selling platform, which has so far been kept rather quiet.

Called the J.Crew Marketplace, the new service which started in May, allows third-party sellers to list items on its website. Payments are handled by J.Crew whilst shipping is done directly from seller to customer. Like eBay and other fashion re-sale platforms, J.Crew takes a percentage of each sale. It is not known if J.Crew is responsible for third party product photography.

According to Market Insider partnered brands include a mix of smaller, boutique labels like New York-based jewelry brand Odette and swimwear company Onia. Neither of these brands has its own store, but their products are sold online and sold via wholesale channels to other retailers. J.Crew does not hold stock and neither manages returns.

J.Crew currently sells brands such as Nike and New Balance in its stores and online, hence third-party styles may not immediately be apparent to shoppers. In its product descriptions there is a note that informs the shopper that this is a "J.Crew Marketplace" item and will be shipped directly from the seller.

Its marketplace is a new strategy for J.Crew

This new marketplace is part of J.Crew's new strategy to make the brand more diverse in its offerings and appeal to more customers, notes Market Insider. Amazon's own marketplace has become one of the most successful areas of its business and is now responsible for more than half of all units sold on Amazon.

"We must reflect the America of today, which is significantly more diverse than the America of 20 years ago," new J.Crew CEO James Brett told The Wall Street Journal in August. "You can't be one price. You can't be one aesthetic. You can't be one fit."

J.Crew has been notoriously absent from New York fashion week and hasn't had a show or look book published on Vogue Runway since its Fall 2017 collection. In April 2017 its longtime creative director Jenna Lyons left the company, as did CEO Mickey Drexler.

While the company has been undergoing agile changes behind the scenes, it has made headway with its pricing strategy and re-focusing its core product groups.

Brett has been leading the charge in J.Crew's turnaround efforts after several years of flagging sales. The store had been accused of becoming unaffordable and impractical under the leadership of its former CEO, Mickey Drexler, and longtime creative director, Jenna Lyons. To combat this, Brett has lowered prices, added plus-sizes, and most recently started selling its low-cost Mercantile collection on Amazon.

His strategy seems to be paying off, as J.Crew's same-store sales numbers turned a corner in the company's most recent quarterly results after dropping for the last three years. In August, J.Crew's namesake brand reported a 1 percent increase in comparable sales for the second quarter.

On Monday, J.Crew unveiled its new look with a diversity-driven ad campaign featuring groups of people from creative and non-profit organizations dressed, of course, in J.Crew. Called "New Crew," its ads features organizations such as Save the Waves, which protects coastline ecosystems; Creative Mornings, a lecture series; and Girls Inc., a girl-empowering nonprofit.

"The point of the campaign was to show that J. Crew truly is for everyone—for every body, for every kind of person," Vanessa Holden, chief marketing officer of New York-based J. Crew told AdAge.

Photo credit: J.Crew AW18 campaign, source J.Crew Facebook