Popular Merchandise, Inc. was founded in 1947 by Saul Charles and Mitchell Cinader, who would do in-home demonstrations to sell low-cost women's apparel. Almost four decades later, catalogs were becoming one of the top distribution methods among major retailers, so Popular Merchandise decided to launch its own catalog division in 1983. Under the direction of Cinader's son Arthur and granddaughter Emily, the brand designed the first J. Crew catalog to appeal to upper-middle-class customers. The catalog was successful almost immediately, and the company's annual sales increased from $3 million to $100 million during the first five years. In the late '80s, the business was officially renamed the J. Crew Group, and it began to venture into retail.
The first J. Crew store opened at New York's South Street Seaport in 1989 and spurred a new era of growth. Retail sales soon started to overtake catalog sales, and the brand began opening stores internationally in addition to expanding domestically. Today, the company is owned by two private equity firms--Leonard Green & Partners and TPG Capital. J. Crew operates almost 300 retail stores and about 150 factory stores, in addition to maintaining the catalog and an ecommerce presence. The brand has also spun off its successful Madewell brand into its own unique entity.
J. Crew has always been known for its "preppy" clothes for both kids and adults. In girls' sizes, you can find dresses in styles like shift dresses, sweater dresses, jumpers, skirt dresses, knit dresses, occasion dresses, and more. The brand also offers short- and long-sleeved t-shirts and graphic tees, as well as crewnecks, v-necks, and tanks. Other tops include button-down shirts, blouses, tunics, popovers, cardigans, and sweaters. Girls' bottoms range from denim to leggings to corduroy. You can also find skirts, shorts, rompers, jumpsuits, and more. Boys' casual apparel includes t-shirts, henleys, and polos. Preppy options like suits, blazers, vests, ties, button-down shirts, and more are also available. Pants include jeans, pull-on pants, cords, chinos, and dress pants. Both boys and girls can find J. Crew jackets for all different types of weather.
The women's collection from J. Crew ranges from casual apparel to workwear to options for a night on the town. Tops include blouses, tees, tanks, camis, button-downs, sweaters, cardigans, and pullovers. Dresses are available in categories like wear-to-work, day dresses, party dresses, and cocktail dresses. You can also find several suiting options and blazers for more formal wear. J. Crew jeans and pants feature all the hottest styles and cuts in different fabrics and colors. The brand also maintains a large collection of swimwear--including options like bikinis, tankinis, bandeaus, and one-piece swimsuits. Apart from regular apparel, shoes are available in styles like pumps, ballet flats, boots, sandals, loafers, and more.
As J. Crew has evolved over the years, it has carved out its own niche and helped shape the definition of "preppy" clothes. Today, the brand's products range from casual apparel to options that are a little more traditional. Clothes aren't cheap--especially when they are part of one of the brand's latest collections. Often, the best deals to be found are at J. Crew Outlets or via consignment. Luckily, the brand's apparel is known for being very high-quality, so you can be sure that clothes will last. All in all, we give J. Crew 4.5 stars out of 5.