Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Unrequited love — J Crew and me
It started off innocently enough.
I'd be in the neighborhood and just pop in to say "hello." I'd never paid too much attention before, but suddenly I was completely infatuated. Some might say obsessed. The occasional visit turned into a weekly thing. Sometimes, more often. Oh, I was always welcomed but never with the same enthusiasm that I felt.
It wasn't long before I was dropping a fair amount of money to keep this relationship going. Not that it ever went the other way. Yes, this was — actually still is, — an unhealthy situation.
But, I just can't help it. I can't quit Crew.
Loving J Crew is a lot like being in a dysfunctional relationship. You know, the one where you're the giver and the other party is the taker. It's not like you don't get something in return, but it just never seems to equal the amount of emotional adoration that you sink in.
Now, I am a card-carrying Crewhard. That said, it still takes me forever to rack up enough points to get a $25 reward. I rarely buy full-price, always sale. I'm a good customer — I prowl the wonky Web site (which sometimes works, sometimes doesn't and doesn't always ship the merchandise it promises) on a nearly daily basis and pay regular visits to the bricks-and-mortar store. So, why is it that I feel so used?
I mean, as cute as Crew clothes are, they're mass-produced pieces. They're everywhere — you can see yourself coming and going. And, what's with the bullshit final sale business, where the retailer finally deigns to lower prices but then customers can't return anything?
That's just plain mean.
Even meaner are the crazy shipping prices. So what if the three-quarter sleeve, ruffled cardi goes down to $20, if you still have to pay $7 in shipping? I understand fuel prices are high, blah, blah, blah, but still. I do a fair amount of online shopping, and plenty of sites offer free shipping or reduced shipping. J Crew's idea of a break is free shipping.... if you order $175 worth of stuff.
Yet, I can't think of any brand that's shaped my fashion sense more than the Crack, as it's known in its crazy fan circles. The drug reference is quite spot-on. Just look at all the Web sites devoted to the clothes, from sales code alerts to critiques of new pieces. On ebay, I've seen $20 sale items go for close to $100.
And this lovely tiered top you see here? That would be an $800 lace camisole top. It's already sold out in at least one size. Sheer madness, I tell you.
Yet, we fans of J Crew just can't help ourselves. My guess is that there's some sort of addictive pheromone in those clothing tags you're supposed to cut off after buying.
Perhaps that's what makes this whole situation so cult-like. If the stores start offering complimentary Kool-Aid, I'm not going to drink it.