Amazon continues to dive further into the world of menswear with the announcement this week that America’s second trillion-dollar company will sell a line from J.Crew.
J.Crew has always been a model for timeless, affordable menswear. We are constantly linking to items from both J.Crew and J.Crew Factory, which are home to some of our favorite shirts, sweaters, suits, and outerwear.
Take a look on the Amazon Fashion storefront now and you’ll find a selection of Fall 2018 staples from J.Crew Mercantile, including a utility jacket ($85), your classic long-sleeve gingham shirt ($45) and a striped crewneck sweater ($59.50). According to Amazon, all items will cost less than $300 and are eligible for free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime.
That’s right, J.Crew has finally come to Prime.
A Change Of Direction for J.Crew
This is something that would have been unthinkable under former J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler’s leadership as recently as last year. But under current executive James Brett, the company is striving to be more accessible, and is starting to do that by focusing on more entry-level prices and a variety of sizes for its consumers, as well as introducing J.Crew product into more retailers.
“It’s a natural extension of [its] mission to be where people are shopping,” Michelle Rothman, VP of Amazon Fashion, said in a statement. It’s also a logical move for the online giant that’s on its way to becoming the nation’s largest apparel retailer.
J.Crew Factory vs J.Crew Mercantile: What’s The Difference?
If you’re unsure of the distinction between J.Crew Factory and J.Crew Mercantile, it’s understandable. The Mercantile line is expanding and emerging as a discounted line of colorful classics, previously sold at Factory stores, while the Factory brand and stores do not seem to be undergoing any significant overhaul.
You can still find Mercantile product at various J.Crew and Factory stores, but now it will basically serve as the universal entry point in J.Crew’s push for new customers.
For a more concrete understanding of the difference between the lines, look to what Old Navy is to Gap; J.Crew Mercantile is to J.Crew. (Old Navy, coincidentally, was also created by Drexler when he was the head of Gap.)
Prime Fixes J.Crew Factory’s Weak Shipping & Returns
The added convenience of Amazon’s two-day shipping and free returns Prime functionality is a huge plus for fans of the J.Crew aesthetic. It instantly streamlines the shipping and return process, which isn't the best when ordering from J.Crew Factory online due to shipping minimums, traditional shipping times, and the need to pay for returns if a physical Factory store isn't nearby barring a shipping promotion, making things a whole lot easier for the consumer who doesn’t happen to live near a Factory store.
In terms of price, while these items still come in at a much lower price-point than most full-priced items at a standard J.Crew store, they do come in a bit higher than the discounted items you would find in a brick and mortar Factory store, which are always teeming with additional discounts on seemingly every item. Even online, Factory apparel is routinely discounted 40-60% off.
Will More Brands Follow J.Crew?
This move opens the door for two potential menswear shakeups. First, if the collaboration with J.Crew is successful, might more brands (Gap, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, etc.) be interested in collaborating with Amazon on this level?
Second, former CEO Mickey Drexler was against selling on Amazon last year due to concerns of data ownership and private labeling. With everyone’s favorite J.Crew Mercantile items now available via Amazon Prime, customers might be less inclined to go into actual stores.
Adding to brands’ concern: Amazon can now collect all the data from these purchases and use that to create its own private label that mimics some of J.Crew’s best-selling items, making Drexler’s original fears come true.
For the average menswear consumer like you and me, it’s nice to finally have a brand we can trust on Amazon in this capacity. There are some great menswear finds on Amazon for known brands like Levi's, Amazon's house fashion lines, as well as surprisingly decent no-name brands, some of which are highlighted here at Primer (check out our all-Amazon Amazon Outfit series) but sometimes it feels like such a roll of the dice when trying to shop for style and quality with some of these affordable no-name brands.
It’s a welcome change to find an oxford shirt or chinos and know that it will be priced right, quality product, and will arrive at your doorstep in two days.