As college students, it is likely that many of us have some or a lot of clothing from Madewell, J.Crew or both in our closets. You may love J.Crew, you may love Madewell or you may think both of the company’s clothes are a bit too expensive. But, we can’t deny that the clothes that come from these two companies are the definition of high-quality fashion that isn’t outrageously pricey. Plus, the jeans, tops, dresses and accessories that come out of J.Crew and Madewell are super stylish and on-trend. If you follow the business of fashion on LinkedIn, you may have seen articles in recent years about Madewell “outshining” J.Crew or J.Crew “losing sales to Madewell.” You may have thought to yourself after reading these headlines, why are these two companies so often pitted against each other, and why should it matter?
Here’s the scoop: both Madewell and J.Crew operate under the J.Crew Group, which is a retailer that was founded in 1947 by Mitchell Cinder and Saul Charles. The J.Crew group also owns the J.Crew Factory, which is the outlet of the J.Crew brand. Since Madewell and J.Crew are the two big-name clothing stores that are owned by the J.Crew Group, there’s bound to be competition between the two. The two are so similar, yet so different from each other. What is similar between Madewell and J.Crew is clearly their marketing strategies. The way their promotional emails are written, the casual-yet-witty copy seen on both of their websites’ homepages and the copy of their clothing descriptions are very similar in style.
The difference between these two companies is their style and target audience – J.Crew caters to young professionals and can also appeal to middle-aged working professionals, while Madewell caters to young, hip women and men who are dressing snappy-casual. Both Madewell and J.Crew sell casual and stylish clothing, however Madewell offers more casual wear-to-work-everyday clothing while J.Crew offers more wear-to-important-interview clothing. One of my favorite Madewell pieces is their Flannel Bromley Shirt. I have this in my closet and it’s a high-quality flannel that I could even wear to work! A favorite of mine from J.Crew is their Excursion Vest. This year, they’ve bumped it up a few notches by making it with recycled poly, and in honey yellow! J.Crew has an entire section of the store and website dedicated to professional work attire. Madewell sells very few professional clothes such as blazers or suit pants and skirts. But, most of their pieces are definitely work-appropriate, and absolutely make their way into my work wardrobe!
The important thing is that both of these companies create clothing that is on-trend, work-appropriate and high-quality. If you’re torn on whether you should ask for that J.Crew or Madewell gift card for the holidays, think about what you need to make a great impression at your workplace. Students in fields where it is expected that you dress professionally on most days, such as finance or accounting, may benefit more from J.Crew’s wear-to-work section. Students who are in the fields of education or the arts or humanities may benefit more from Madewell’s snappy casual clothing options. The truth of the matter is that most if not all college students need that one professional outfit to feel confident in and ace that interview with. If you want work-appropriate clothing that is not too overpriced or matronly, J.Crew and Madewell are both great companies to buy your clothing from!