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Aug 30th, 2013 | Categories: Men's Stores, Menswear | by Michael Williams

J.Crew Liquor Store

What began at J.Crew’s first men’s only shop in TriBeCa takes a new shape this fall with the launch of the label’s new Discovered online shop. “Discovered” is a tightly knit selection of interesting goods from both the J.Crew collection which also includes special product collaborations from outside brands like New Balance, Nanamica and other covet-able clothing of all stripes. Before we get talk more about that, let’s go back to the origins of the J.Crew brand collaborations: Mickey Drexler and The Liquor Store.

Watching all of this develop over the past several years, it’s smart the way J.Crew brings in product from outside brands to mix with all of the apparel that it designs, manufactures and sells under its own label. It’s a realistic approach to how guys dress. Alden, New Balance and Red Wing are the natural footwear compliments to a pair of J.Crew’s khakis, wovens and other clothing categories. So why not leverage the company’s brand to get all of these other interesting labels to make compelling product exclusively for J.Crew. Ships, Beams and United Arrows have mastered this as an art form long ago. So have a bunch of directional specialty stores.

The model is the same: use the cool factor of the brand/store to get cool exclusives to further build on the brand/store’s cool factor. In terms of vertical American retailers, no one does the third-party product assortment better than J.Crew. It’s the culmination of good leadership, effective merchandising, smart retail execution and sharp marketing all-together in one place. Throw in the catalog (which they now call the “Style Guide”) and collaborating with J.Crew is a no-brainer for both small and large brands alike.

Strip all of that away and everything just boils down to good product. All of these collaborations and special products are stuff with longevity that people really want to continue to own and wear for a long time. Alden shoes are never going to not be cool. Same goes for a monogrammed shirt or a pair of New Balance 998s. When the Liquor Store opened five years ago, all of this outside product found a place to live in J.Crew’s physical world. (I was going to say it found a place to stretch its legs, but there’s not much space in the Liquor Store to do much leg stretching — that type of space is described in New York by the word “cozy”.) I remember seeing Red Wing boots in J.Crew for the first time in 2007. I was in the store on Prince Street in SoHo (which is now a women’s only store) downstairs there was a huge display of Red Wings with an old archival box that the Minnesota boot maker (which is a client of ours at Paul + Williams) had made special for J.Crew. Looking back, that was straight out of the Todd Snyder playbook, and it was, I think, the beginning of all of these cool product partnerships. J.Crew made the classics feel fresh and put them in an interesting environment. It changed the way we looked at these labels and changed the way people felt about J.Crew. I think it’s a big part of the success of the men’s business there over the past few years.

But the real watershed moment was when all of these great products concentrated at The Liquor Store, that’s when everything reached critical mass. I remembered saying at the time how great it was for Mickey Drexler and J.Crew to be opening men’s only shops — an idea I still very much support. (Guys want to shop in a space that’s all their own.) The Liquor Store gave the company a canvas to work on. It was part Mickey Drexler, part Andy Spade, part Frank Muytjens and full of stuff you want to wear. And it’s been a huge success. All of the ideas that were first fully expressed in that space in TriBeCa have continued and grown over time, and now with Discovered —which starting this fall and will be an ongoing shop made up of a series of interesting and special product releases— is the next logical step to keep us all interested and it will hopefully keep the good stuff coming our way. [J.CREW DISCOVERED]

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Launching in the first round of Discovered are a group of special New Balance sneakers, a great looking Nanamica jacket from Japan, a huge monogram program and several other interesting j.Crew exclusives.

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Comments: 9

9 Comments to “The Discovery Channel”

  1. Ray Hull
    on Aug 30th, 2013
    @ 3:30 PM

    Maybe many here are too young to remember the ubiquitous monogrammed button-down Brooks Bros shirts–right where the pocket would have been, back in the 60s etc. It was fun to mix and match colors–even pink on pink.

    Years later, Orvis offered monogramming and suggested fun msgs….like the one I got for my attorney, with his office phone number on the pocket. It was a hit on Nantucket that summer, where people were guessing the location of his 518 area code. I considered SSAN, but thought better about it, even though back then (mid-80s) it wasn’t such a freighted number…but it certainly was recognizable by its hyphens.

  2. Ash
    on Aug 30th, 2013
    @ 3:30 PM

    Was in J Crew today. While I like the entire Ludlow line I also have a problem with it: my head. I have a fairly large head … and long face. To balance that I need a few things: wide shoulders, which I have, a head of hair, which luckily I have, sideburns of the appropriate length, which I have grown, and … shirts with full collars and jackets with wider lapels … am out of luck there with Ludlow.

  3. B. Smith
    on Aug 30th, 2013
    @ 5:22 PM

    As a brand J. Crew continuously pushes the envelope in terms of bettering the shopping experience. It was genius to offer an online shop for their outlet.

    I also agree with Michael, men do appreciate a space that’s dedicated to their shopping needs. Being able to buy an entire “look” that’s functional under on roof is awesome, especially when it doesn’t involve a department store.

    I greatly appreciate the simplicity they’re creating.

  4. John
    on Aug 30th, 2013
    @ 8:47 PM

    Love what jcrew has done ove the past fe wears, but agree with ash on the lulls line for bigger guys. I am actually ok with the suits, but the collar on the shirts (mason and jcrew) is too small and seems out of proportion to me. I think it works for smaller guys or maybe in creative offices, but why not offer a larger spread and a traditional collar for guys with bigger necks, shoulders, etc and those who work in more corporate settings where those small collars look out of place. Shouldn’t be too hard to offer 2-3 collar options and wouldn’t comprise anything, IMO

  5. Matthew Pike
    on Aug 31st, 2013
    @ 4:29 AM

    For a Brit who visits the States as often as possible, it’s quite an experience stepping into a regular J.Crew store let along a stand alone menswear outlet. There’s just a good vibe in those shops, they do seem to be extremely considered and clever in the way they displays what seems like simple pieces with the range of concession brands. Somehow they make it seem cooler to buy a pair of Purcell’s from them than anyone else.

    The monogramming video was top, I’ve got a plain coach jacket that I’d love to get lettered up.

  6. enzo the baker
    on Aug 31st, 2013
    @ 1:27 PM

    used to be a great bar. a good place to spend a lazy late summer afternoon outside, and then order in vietnamese food from the spot around the corner.

    the shop is a clever marketing and branding experience.

  7. John
    on Aug 31st, 2013
    @ 9:28 PM

    Wow, just reread my post about the collars (above). Sorry for the spelling! A few beers and autocomplete is a dangerous combination! My apologies to anyone who read that drivel. Still standby my thoughts on the collars though!

  8. Anon
    on Sep 1st, 2013
    @ 9:26 PM

    I’m loving the single-button Ludlow jackets.

  9. Broderick | Sartorial Exposure
    on Sep 1st, 2013
    @ 11:28 PM

    I really want to make it up to the Liquor Store – love J. Crew