On an earnings call earlier this year, CEO Mickey Drexler conceded that 2014 had been a “lousy year” for J.Crew, with a net loss of $462.4 million. And, it appears, there are two (inanimate) culprits. Business Insider cites the store’s popular Cece ballet flat as one thing that contributed to its problems. The made-in-Italy flat was a beloved best-seller that was discontinued early last year, then brought back in a slightly different, made-in-America version. Online customer reviews dubbed them “Not what they used to be” and “Poorer quality than old Cece flats.” Some customers also noted that the shoes are less comfortable or are sized differently compared with their predecessors. Lesson learned: Never get between a woman and her comfy, walkable footwear.
The other item bedeviling the store right now? A cardigan called the Tilly. Yes, the retailer has what Bloomberg calls a “sweater problem.” The Tippi, a pullover cardigan, sold like hotcakes, but the store ran out of inventory. The Tilly, described by J.Crew’s site as a “slightly shrunken cousin” of the Tippi, was the black sheep of the sweater family and proved far less popular. Drexler noted that the company plans to redirect its knitwear into more “classic” styles, which seems to reflect an overall shift on the part of the company toward a simpler, less fashion-insider aesthetic. On the bright side, Madewell, which is also owned by J.Crew, is thriving, with sales up 33 percent.