This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated in December 2020. Contains affiliate links.
Is J Crew ethical?
One of my “hobbies” is to catch up on J. Crew business news on fashionista.com.
I’m not sure why I find it so gripping – maybe it’s because J. Crew is a real fixture among academics, and most of my peer-aged friends are either graduate students or professors. J. Crew, if you were wondering, has actually been in decline for the last several years. A combination of design mistakes (mostly attributed to former creative director, Jenna Lyons) and declining fabric and production quality have contributed to turning away dedicated fans of the brand.
But there really is a need for J. Crew’s products: reasonable quality, work-appropriate goods with an eye toward contemporary cuts, colors, and styles.
The problem is that J. Crew produces most of its goods in sweatshops in some of the world’s poorest countries. Paired with increasing quality issues (their cashmere, for instance, simply does not hold up), it’s no longer a viable choice for discerning consumers, whether their primary interest is labor ethics or simply long-lasting goods.
The one exception to this is J. Crew’s recently added Fair Trade Certified Denim. Remarkably, J. Crew actually paid for the factory they use to be certified, revealing at least an acknowledgement of fair trade’s marketing value if not a growing commitment to ethics themselves. Let’s hope they expand!
Ethical Alternatives to J Crew
Classic and elegant shoes that incorporate Palestinian tatreez embroidery. Hand crafted and fair trade.
Minimalist, ethical leather shoes and accessories in classic, business-appropriate cuts.
12. Ponto Footwear
Using recycled leather and biodegradable materials, Ponto produces a wear-everywhere shoe that is better for the planet.