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J.Crew isn’t trying to be cool, and it’s a brilliant move


21587051_10155728950687090_6409516288462929225_oJ.Crew

  • J.Crew is releasing a shirt designed to be worn
    untucked.
  • It shows how far the brand is willing to go to bring
    back consumers who may have flocked to more
    practicality-focused startups.
  • As customers’ preferences change, so must an apparel
    company’s products.

 

J.Crew
will start selling a shirt
that can be worn untucked.

This seemingly small move may actually have a huge impact for the
brand — and it’s the clearest sign yet the brand is moving in the
right direction while responding to consumers’ demands.

The idea of selling a shirt that is designed to be left untucked
is not a new one. It has resurfaced with a force recently,
however. A startup
known as Untuckit
 has made a name for itself with this
relatively simple idea. 


J. Crew
The J.Crew shirt in the
“untucked” fit.


J. Crew


“Guys had a primal knowledge of what this was,” Untuckit
cofounder Aaron Sanandres told me in an
interview last June. “Guys suffer with it. If you know, no
explanation is necessary.”

And it’s true — too-long shirts have been a struggle for guys
ever since our more casual culture arrived with the mandate that
you could wear collared shirts without tucking them in. Before
brands like Untuckit, guys didn’t know where to turn to get a
shirt with a shorter hem line that looked good without being
tucked in.

That’s not to say there weren’t options available. J.Crew has
been selling casual shirts with a shorter-than-average hemline
for years, and those look fine not being tucked. My 5’9″ frame
has been dressed in them for years.

The problem, then, was marketing. Men didn’t know where to find
them, and they didn’t have the urge to look, preferring to suffer
in (semi) silence.

That’s what has made Untuckit the sensation it is. It’s speaking
directly to these men that feel forgotten by mall, department,
and discount clothing stores full of long-hemmed shirts. In a
rare move for apparel, it also reaches across ages and body
types. Untucking your shirt isn’t just for old men with guts or
young people who want to look casual. Its appeal crosses
demographics, and it’s not tied to status or cachet. 

“If you go to our Soho store you’ll see a 25-year-old hipster
from Brooklyn next to an 85-year-old man from Florida. It’s just
amazing the range,” Untuckit’s other cofounder, Chris Riccobono,
told me last year. “Anybody who’s worn their shirt untucked,
whether it’s the old classic brands or the new brands, if you’ve
worn your shirt untucked and put on an Untuckit [shirt], it
resonates.”

Guys want to see this issue solved, no matter who they are.

That small genius of a marketing move has led to sales doubling
every year for Untuckit since its inception in 2011, an estimated
$200 million valuation, and a $30 million investment led by the
venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. Untuckit is now in the
midst of an ambitious physical retail strategy as it opens stores
across the country.

It’s clear there’s demand for this simple idea. J.Crew isn’t even
the first men’s clothing company to copy Untuckit. Bonobos

did it last year
, adding two new lengths to its casual shirts
— short and long — to complement the regular length.

There are plenty of people who don’t care about getting the
latest trends. They just want clothing that fits well, looks
good, and is a decent price. This is a steph in that direction
from J.Crew, which has also reduced some prices on popular items
and added hidden features, like stretch, to make items more
comfortable.

If guys respond to this, it could be a new chapter of
customer-centric thinking for a company that is still looking for
a turnaround.


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