Posted by Abe Sauer on October 23, 2009 11:49 AM
As retailers continue to use the term "disappointing" in conjunction with their Q3 earnings, one brand, not knowing for breaking the mold, is, well, breaking the mold -- with some help from the Obama family.
Fashion retailer J Crew has reported stronger-than-expected sales, leading the company to adjust its Q3 profit estimates up by nearly double. It predicts this performance will continue into the near future.
Never known for pushing the envelope in the fashion world, J Crew has always been a staple of a certain kind of wardrobe. One might call it "Prep for all Mankind." More expensive and "old money" than Banana Republic, and LL Bean's more stylish urban cousin.
But then along came Michelle Obama.
It is almost impossible to dismiss First Lady Michelle Obama's endorsement of the brand last April during a visit to England. One source claimed that the "crystal constellation" cardigan she was wearing at the time of endorsement sold out within hours. Considering the item retails for nearly $300, one can begin to see the source of the brand's strong (and unplanned for) Q3 earnings. A similar appearance by Obama on the Tonight Show in J Crew increased brand’s website traffic by 64%.
The questions remains if these new J Crew converts will remain brand loyal. For years J Crew was comfortable plugging along, boasting very strong brand loyalty with a certain group who saw it as their kind of uniform. Also, will a boost in popularity and a perception that the brand is "current" hurt it with its old fans when Michelle moves on to Ed Hardy or whatever.