J.Crew Mercantile, the label from the specialty retailer that is sold at outlets, is now available on Amazon, according to an announcement.
“We are focused on continually enhancing our assortment and innovating the shopping experience to enable fashion discovery and inspiration on Amazon,” Michelle Rothman, vp of Amazon Fashion, said in a statement.
While Amazon has historically struggled in fashion, it has made a push recently to rectify this shortcoming. That includes its Echo Look device, which dispenses fashion tips, and its Prime Wardrobe service, which allows U.S. consumers to order clothing to try on at home.
From J.Crew’s perspective, the partnership is “a natural extension of [its] mission to be where people are shopping,” the announcement said.
It’s also a departure from former CEO Mickey Drexler’s assertion in 2017 that J.Crew would not sell on Amazon, citing concerns about data ownership and private labeling. The retailer has sought to be more accessible under the helm of existing chief executive James Brett, who reportedly called the retailer’s Q2 results a “watershed moment” as it ended a four-year sales slump. According to the Wall Street Journal, this was attributable to more entry-level prices and more size and fit options. He also said J.Crew would sell clothes at more retailers, which we are starting to see now.
In a statement, Aaron Rose, J.Crew chief of emerging business, said: “[Amazon’s] broad-reaching shopping destination supported by our shared interest in service and convenience will introduce the initial collection of colorful everyday basics and fashion to a new audience.”
Forrester analyst Sucharita Kodali, however, called J.Crew’s Amazon inventory “factory merchandise,” adding: “That’s a great summary of how J.Crew likely sees Amazon—as a channel for liquidating lower-end merchandise to price-sensitive customers.”
And, she said, the decision to sell on Amazon “clearly comes from J.Crew’s position of weakness, not strength.”
Retail business strategist Bob Phibbs agreed the partnership makes more sense for Amazon. That’s because J.Crew customers will have less incentive to go to physical stores, but also because, as Drexler feared, Amazon will collect data on these purchases and can use that to create its own private clothing label that mimics J.Crew’s best-selling items.
“Because they are staples, they’re even more susceptible to being cloned and private-labeled,” he said. “It’s a Trojan Horse they’re inviting in.”