London’s fashionistas will welcome the news that J. Crew is to open a fourth new store in London. Located in Sloane Square, the fashionable heart of London, the new 4,500 square foot location is positioned next door to Tiffany & Co’s flagship store and close to other luxury brands such as Cartier.
The last three J. Crew stores, opened in November 2013, also in West London (in South Kensington, Regent Street and Conduit Street) were long-awaited, and the steep pricing has not put shoppers off the brand. Eyebrows were raised when J.Crew “swapped pound signs for dollar symbols”, which is some cases resulted in a mark-up of nearly 60 per cent for British customers.
A spokesman from the company pointed out that this was unavoidable. ” We have to take into consideration various taxes, duties, and operational charges that vary from country to country. It is an inescapable fact that these costs in the UK are significantly higher than in the US… It is simply a fact of life”.
The executive creative director, Jenna Lyons, could not avoid being drawn into a discussion about the higher pricing of J. Crew products in the UK. “There is always a dialogue about price: There are import taxes and duties, and the higher cost of doing business in London. But it’s not our game to inflate prices for no reason”, she assured customers.
Nevertheless, the 4,500 square foot space shows that J. Crew believes it has a future in the UK. The creative director said of the new location, “Sloane Square was on our radar as an area that we liked, and the space came available more quickly than anticipated”, meaning that the brand’s fourth store will be opened sooner than predicted.
Back in the US, J. Crew owns more than 300 stores but is a multi-channel retailer, selling its products through retail and factory stores as well as catalogues and on the company’s website. This can be traced back to the company’s booming catalogue business in the 1980s, only opening its first retail store in Manhattan in 1989. This year, J. Crew announced it would open its first stores in Asia, where it already has a significant brand presence as a result of tourists and businessmen from the region visiting the United States.
The firm also announced its first foray into the world of fragrances in August, creating a scent called No.31, a reference to Peggy Guggenheim’s 1943 ‘Exhibition by 31 Women’, the first all-female modern art show in the US, which showcased works by the likes of Frida Khalo and Helen Frankenthaler.