Discuss: An Update on J.Crew and 000

Jul 11, 2014

Our discussion post on J.Crew’s decision to create a size 000 got some coverage this week.  On Wednesday, my friend Virginia texted me at 5:20AM PDT to tell me that it was mentioned on “The Today Show.”  From there, it made the rounds to The Daily MailRefinery29 and other spots near and far.

My favorite response came from Kelly Faircloth at Jezebel who views “vanity sizing” through the lens of a plus-size woman.  She makes some interesting points, and I agree with her that creating consistency in sizing from retailer-to-retailer would be amazing.

Needless to say, it was a bit of an exciting week for me, and I wanted to say thank you to everyone who shared my post on Facebook, Twitter and Redditt.

As you might imagine, the media response to my post led to an e-mail from the executive suite at J.Crew.  I thought it only fair to post it.

Hi Belle,
Hope you are well.  Saw your post from 6/27 and wanted to clarify the main point behind introduction of size 000  –  unfortunately, it continues to be both misunderstood and misreported by various sources.
As background–  we extended additional sizing to accommodate customer demand primarily coming from our Hong Kong/ Asia market.  This has nothing to do with vanity sizing and accounts for the smallest percentage of our overall sizing assortment. We also offer size 16, petites, tall, size 5 and 12 shoe  sizes as well as special swim sizes (long and short torsos, D-cup, etc) also introduced based on demand.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help clarify any other points!

So the company line is that 000 only exists thanks to the Hong Kong market.  While it’s certainly a business imperative to be able to sell clothing to the growing Chinese middle class, I’m hardly satisfied with the response.

If a retailer’s size guide says that I’m a size six by my measurements, but I haven’t purchased anything larger than a size 2 in years, there is a problem with the sizing.  Perhaps it’s not intentional.  But is a size guide that is a fair and honest representation of the brand’s sizing practices too much to ask for?

Also, if they were offering sizes based solely on demand, where are the plus-sizes?  But, I digress…

I responded to Heather McAuliffe’s e-mail sharing with her some of the concerns y’all laid out in the comments re: quality, sizing, price and style.  That e-mail hasn’t received a response yet.  I’m hoping it will since the young, middle-income, professional women who read this blog are J.Crew’s customer base.

Thank you again for sharing my post, I’ll let you know if I hear back from J.Crew about why my cashmere sweaters have more pills than Glaxo Smith Kline, or why six different readers have sent me pictures of brand new t-shirts with huge holes in the underarm area.

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  1. Meg says:

    Yesterday a package arrived from JCrew Factory with 2 pairs of their Winnie pants (on sale plus 20% off for my birthday, came to $28 each). On one pair, the seem wasn’t finished to the side zipper. There’s a hole. I don’t have enough faith in JCrew to return for a better pair, I’m going to sew myself. And find another brand. The coverage your post received is awesome and I’m glad you used it as an opportunity raise the other issues. Thank you.

  2. RL says:

    I’ve been a 12 pretty consistently across brands since college. I am completely aware that I have gained weight since then, so that likely, some size adjustments are occurring over the years, but only to the extent that I’ve stayed in same number (so, haven’t gone down in numerical sizes). I might occasionally go down a size based on cut or how I want an oversized item to fit, but the measurements on Jcrew’s website match the size I wear with them, and match my experience in size with other brands (like BR).

    So while I don’t discount that discrepancies between posted measurements and real world experiences happen, and that they might happen with regularity, it’s also not something that I have seen affect my end of the spectrum.

    Just another data point for consideration.

    • tnm says:

      yeah. i have the same experience as you. i’m generally an 8 or 10 most places (for several years now) and haven’t seen or experienced too much of the vanity sizing.

    • GingerR says:

      I find that they’re fairly true to size, I’m a size 12. Perhaps at sizes that a majority of women wear they match up better with the norm.

      I do think they cut clothes for a younger body – more defined waist, slimmer legs.

  3. Rachel says:

    I’m glad this issue is getting some prime-time attention! So now… where am I supposed to get classic business casual pieces that are actually of decent quality??

    • Erin says:

      Rachel (and anyone else who cares about my opinion) … check out Boden USA (bodenusa.com). I have absolutely migrated from JCrew to Boden over the years for a mix of wardrobe staples and their quality is top notch. The price points are similar to what JCrew is across the board but again, I have been nothing but pleased with the tailoring, etc.

      I love other brands too but Boden has become my must-have. FYI, they also have amazing sales! Erin

  4. Stacey says:

    As a woman in her 30s who stands at 4’11 and has struggled throughout her entire adult life to find age appropriate clothing with our a need for extensive (read costly) tailoring, I am elated. I have consistently shopped J. Crew, as do many popular petite bloggers, b/c the brand is one of the precious few that come close to being worn off of the rack. I am glad that they are meeting a need and filling a void and really can NOT understand the uproar. It isn’t vanity sizing, it is selling clothes that adhere to their size chart! There are several brands who lack consistency within their own label but no push back about that. If anything, work with the industry as a whole for a standard across all labels. Let’s not attack J Crew for finally making clothing I can wear! No more children’s section 🙂

    • Belle says:

      The comments on the original post def. pushed back at Ann Taylor and others. I think J.Crew is getting the special attention a) because they went subzero first, and also b) because we expect better from the brand, probably because there reputation was once so good, where as AT has always kind of been just fine.

  5. Katie says:

    I have to LOL at D-cup being a “special swim size” considering cup size is relative to band size. I usually wear a size 4 at J.Crew, and my correct bra size is around a 30DDD, depending on the brand. I love J.Crew’s swimwear, but have had to retire some 32D swim tops after admitting to myself that they don’t really fit. I could do a 32DD if they would make something above their “special size” of D-cup. Please, J.Crew?

    • Mallory says:

      Bra twins! SO HARD to find swim tops that fit properly!

      • Katie says:

        Have you tried Freya? Their swim tops are consistent with their bra sizing if you’ve ever worn that brand. 🙂 Not as cute as J.Crew (to me), but good quality for “special” bra sizing, haha.

  6. Anon says:

    They didn’t quote you, but this did make People’s homepage (as I reveal my own guilty pleasure reading!): https://stylenews.peoplestylewatch.com/2014/07/10/jcrew-000-jeans-debate/.

  7. kristen says:

    I’m metaphorically ducking for this comment — but I’m excited by the new size only because it has been So.Frustrating. to be a 0 or 2 at Express and The Limited and a 4 or 6 at Zara and Asos, and a 00 in J.Crew… if I’m lucky. So perhaps I’m the other side of the same coin about vanity sizing, but from my perspective, if a 000 means I can finally fit into some of their clothes, then I don’t care if it’s really a 2 or 4P in other brands. (Also, can we talk about how inconsistent Banana Republic is? Or is it just me?) Non sequitur: CONGRATS!!!! I hope you’re proud of yourself for being brave enough to go back to school.

    • Stacey says:

      I’m with you Kristen!

    • Anna says:

      I think you’re on the same side of the coin. The sizing is inconsistent, and they keep artificially lowering their sizes to play into women’s vanity, leaving people like you with nothing available because the 0 or 00 is actually a 2 or 4.

  8. AJNE says:

    I just had to get my new (worn twice) pencil skirt from J.Crew (not even factory!) tailored because the hem completely fell out. Ridiculous.

    • Mary says:

      I had to get new dress pants re-hemmed after 3 wears recently. But I paid $6 for them at JC Penney, so I didn’t expect much.

  9. Krissy says:

    LOVED the article. I agree with the comment on the “special swim suit size”. D-cup is NOT a special size.

  10. Brigette says:

    I’m so glad someone is finally getting their attention! I just received a t-shirt and after washing (per the tags instructions) it shrunk at least a full size. Even my $8 target t-shirts don’t shrink!

  11. eck says:

    I’d like to know why jcrew’s petite sizes only go up to a size 12 (38 inch bust) while their regular sizes go up to 20. Apparently in their world short women with any bigger bust (or hips) dont exist. Which explains why I don’t shop there (horrors, my bust is 40 inches, and I’m 5 ft tall).

    • Belle says:

      How dare you have breasts and be short! Loved it.

    • Bec says:

      Size twins! Just because I am short doesn’t mean I am super slim – petite is a hight term, not overall size. Don’t even get me started on a regular size 10 fitting, but a 12P being too tight. Grrrrr

  12. Addie says:

    I agree that they didn’t address the real issue in their response. Maybe they really do need smaller sizes for their Asian customers but just like you should actually be a 6 based on measurements, I bet those Asian customers would fit just fine in a true 0 or maybe 00 rather than a 000.

    • scmd2 says:

      I’m Asian, and like kristen above, I fit into a 0 or 2 at Express and H&M, but an XS at J Crew or Banana Republic is too large for me.

      I think they should re-do their sizing chart completely so it’s based on measurements (perhaps like bra sizes?) instead of randomly assigned numbers.

  13. LeslieJeannene says:

    I was looking at pencil skirts on the sale site last night and when I saw how thin the waistband has gotten I changed my mind. The sizing is irritating, absolutely, but the quality and the ever increasing prices are my biggest gripe with them these days.

  14. Casey says:

    I don’t know if it has to do with body type or what, but I actually don’t find J.Crew to be that different from my normal size or what the size chart says I should be. While I’m usually a 4 and sometimes go for the 2 at J.Crew, this is not any different than what I do at Ann Taylor or Banana.

    My biggest problem with J.Crew is the quality and the fact that their regular prices are a joke – I don’t think I would ever buy anything at full price.

  15. Joules says:

    Wow, I had no idea that post got so much publicity! I read it the day you posted and really appreciated it. I have no clue why women’s sizing is so ridiculous.

    I think you’re right that their email response was decidedly underwhelming. It didn’t really address the issue at all (though they’re a giant corporation, so the idea that they would actually address consumers concerns honestly is pretty ludicrous).

    Please keep up posts like this, I’m really enjoying them!

    Style by Joules

  16. Lou says:

    Well done, Belle!

  17. Lilcee says:

    Hi Belle,
    I can see the outrage size 000. I can understand JCrew’s side of offering this size due to their Asia/Hong Kong market.

    I travel to Asia every few years and have gone shopping there. Many sales and shop keepers turn me away citing that I am simply too fat for their clothes. I wear a size small in adults or size 4/6, can get away with size 16 kids in Crewcuts, a 5’1 petite Asian American. When I try on their clothes there, I am considered a size L/XL. It is difficult to buy clothes for myself especially since they claim they are a major shopping district in Hong Kong.

    So it comes to as no surprise they are offering 000. Sure they can buy CrewCuts at size 12 but then they are also geared for kids.

  18. Sarah Morris says:

    I saw the original mentioning on the Today Show Wednesday morning and spoke to the TV (as if the anchors could hear me) saying “Capitol Hill Style is way ahead of y’all.”

    Thanks for not only posting the original post back in June and even more so following up with it now. Excellent work Belle.

  19. lesley says:

    Perhaps I’m in the minority…but my issue with Jcrew isn’t the sizing (as I totally subscribe to the try on my usual size and one smaller to see what’s fitting), but the quality. I really think that should be more of the issue rather than vanity size as most women note that the differences in women’s bodies are so varied, it’s hard to really tell what exactly is a size whatever. I hope that J. Crew takes note of the quality and improves it….as let’s face it vanity sizing/sizing in general really isn’t going to change and we should all be shopping for what fits rather than a number.

  20. AM says:

    Kudos to you for writing this! As someone who now lives overseas, but still has to rely on trips back to US and to Loft/Banana/J Crew to satisfy my petite clothing needs (alas, the UK clothing market does very poorly when it comes to petites!), it’s become near impossible for me to gauge the right size in these stores (or online on their websites). Makes for a very frustrating shopping experience. And I definitely agree with you on quality – things I got from Loft 10 years ago are in better shape and quality than what is now in their stores (definitely it’s not just a J Crew problem). I don’t see their prices coming down and it pains me to pay that kind of money for poor quality. I hope these brands pay attention and go “back to basics” ie to the quality they once had.

  21. Anna says:

    I actually live in Hong Kong and even people here are pissed about it. Not only did they introduce a size 000, they don’t carry anything above size 4 in the shop here. There are a lot of petite women here, but there are also plenty of size 8 and 10 size women.

    That and the fact prices are jacked up at least 20% above the already inflated US prices means I really am done with j crew.

  22. Jennifer says:

    While the J.Crew sizing inconsistencies and poor quality are problematic, what REALLY annoys me is the onslaught of their emails multiple times a day. Yes, I know I could unsubscribe but I want to be aware of their sales (b/c as other commenters have mentioned, it’s not worth paying full price for most of their stuff as the quality doesn’t justify it). The big issue for me is that I feel like it’s become a tedious game: one day it’s “an additional 40% off all final sale items,” the next minute it’s “get 20% off plus free shipping,” the next day it’s something else. It’s become ridiculous. I never feel like I’m getting the “best” price because it’s always a moving target. I’ve read that J.Crew has had to offer massive discounts on an ongoing basis b/c sales are down and their inventory has piled up and, I’m guessing, since people have caught onto their quality issues, J.Crew can’t sell things at full retail price. So it’s all one big cycle.

    • Ann says:

      I’m with you on this one. Who has the time to obsessively check the website, physical store, and email for codes to make sure you’re getting the best “sale price”? It’s a big advertising trick to sell us clothes made for pennies on the dollar by exploited people in third world countries so we can feel like getting that extra 40% final sale price is getting a good value. The initial cost of the clothes is ridiculous in the first place considering the quality of the items. Totally not embarrassed to admit that lately I find better made pieces at Target!

    • JenniferD says:

      The onslaught of e-mails advertising promotions and sales does not appear to be unique to J.Crew. I’m on several mailing lists from B&M and/or online retailers (BR, Gap, Limited, Express, BaubleBar, etc.) where I receive e-mails on a daily basis advertising different kinds of promotions and sales (__% off, __% off with minimum purchase, buy one-get second at 50% off). Given the many, many communications, and what appears to be languishing in those store’s sale sections, moving inventory seems to be a larger issue within the industry rather than related to one store.

    • Anna says:

      At least you can unsubscribe. I got on one of their email lists (might just be factory that I get), but whenever I try to unsubscribe, it tells me they don’t have my email on file. Well, clearly they do, since I get their emails. Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

  23. Leonie says:

    Oh, those holes in the underarm area! It happened on two of my shirts (one I that I returned to them and the other that they sent as a replacement, in another model, did the same thing). Very poor quality!

  24. Heather says:

    Ugh the dreaded J.Crew underarm holes! A sweater from J.Crew is lucky to make it a season before those holes crop up!

  25. Lula says:

    This is interesting. From playing around and comparing to the size I actually wear, it is apparently based off of the size charts the brands list rather than reality. So,it won’t necessarily help with the accuracy issue, but it’s fun to play around with. https://sizes.darkgreener.com/

    • Belle says:

      Some interesting points in the article, many that readers have already mentioned, but the size guide still doesn’t match the measurements of the finished product. And as one of the readers remarked on Facebook, if making bigger sizes is about demand, why not grow your US market by offering plus-sizes also?

      • T says:

        There are lots of reasons why plus sized clothing is difficult to manufacture and sell. Not everyone is big in the same way, meaning stores cannot count on a size 16 dress fitting most 180-pound women (one might have a larger torso, another big thighs and another wider hips, etc) There are variations not only in the frame, but the way fat is arranged around the body too.

        Also, cost is another issue. Plus-size clothes are more difficult, and expensive, to make than more traditional sizes. Material can be the largest portion of a garment’s cost, about 60%, and larger sizes require not only more of it, but sometimes different production processes. There needs to be wider bolts of fabric, and sometimes special machinery to produce the garments. The consumer do not get passed on these costs, so margins are not as high as the regular-size clothing.

        And limited floor space make it hard to display blouses from size 0 to 24. That’s why the main secret to all of those makeover shows that cater to small and large ladies, is tailoring, pure and simple. Not everyone can wear things off the rack, but the criticism of 000 sounds a lot like criticism of small sizes in general, and that their existence is to make people feel bad about themselves. At the same time, everyone agrees that that idea of the basic size guide is arbitrary too.

        Any complaints of clothing QUALITY is another issue entirely.

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