I struggled to find something J.Crew does wrong


If I had to choose my favorite brand, it would be J.Crew. J.Crew is a company that has remained consistent for many years. Their clothes are classic, classy, and are great for work and play. For years I have found myself being able to rely on J.Crew for clothing that is well made as well as stylish. I truly believe the materials they use for their clothing are high quality and will last. This is something I look for when buying clothing and J.Crew has never let me down.

From shopping at J.Crew on a frequent basis I could think of two specific things they do to give back to the community. First, they offer a 15% discount to college students. Personally this has been something that persuades me to shop at J.Crew over their competitors. I value that they strive to help students purchase more affordable clothing. I also knew they worked with 33692_SW5916Teach for America. I had seen t-shirts sold in J.Crew stores with large apples on them, and that said a percentage of the sale went to TFA. This seemed like a great start, but when reading this blog prompt I was interested in finding out more. I went on J.Crew’s website and within seconds I was able to find a link to all the ways J.Crew was being “socially responsible”.

The most noteworthy thing I discovered was J.Crew’s Code of Vendor Conduct. It stated that J.Crew suppliers must not employ workers younger than 15 years of age, these workers cannot work more than 60 hours per week, and they all must be paid at least minimum wage. J.Crew suppliers must not use any type of forced labor, they must not discriminate, and they must comply with all applicable laws and regulations governing workplace health and safety. I imagine that most retailers have similar codes but I was impressed with J.Crew’s. One part of the code I thought was most important was that J.Crew reserves the right to conduct announced and unannounced inspections of their manufacturing facilities. External firms conduct these inspections and in 2013, 100% of new factories were inspected and 81% of their existing authorized factories. Given the number of factories they have I thought these statistics were reasonable and that J.Crew does a good job overseeing their suppliers.

But I was most impressed when I began to search for something J.Crew does that isn’t so praiseworthy. I struggled to find something that J.Crew does wrong. The only article that I was able to find dated back to 1999 from CNN. This was a lawsuit that J.Crew and 18 other similar companies were involved with. These companies were sending workers to Saipan to produce their clothing. Saipan is part of the Northern Marianas, an island chain seized by U.S. troops from Japan in World War II. People were brought to this U.S. territory and promises of good wages. But when they arrived they were forced to work up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for less than minimum wage. These companies would be able to claim their clothing was “made in America”. When faced with this lawsuit J.Crew agreed to the settlement that required them to “establish a fund to finance the independent monitoring program, provide money to the workers, create a public education campaign and pay attorneys’ fees.” J.Crew dealt with this issue in the best way possible. They admitted they were wrong, agreed to settle, and changed their ways. I believe that since this lawsuit they have been operating as a responsible company. I truly believe that they are monitoring their suppliers and making sure that there are no violations of their Conduct Code. The fact that I was only able to find one issue that occurred in 1999 says a lot about J.Crew and their suppliers.

Tshirt picture from https://s7.jcrew.com/is/image/jcrew/33692_SW5916?$pdp_fs418$; Logo picture from http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_3E0IIOjAHPs/TUqpxjgLt3I/AAAAAAAAHHs/h6nfuH2OP9M/s400/JCrewLogo_Large2.jpg

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4 responses to “I struggled to find something J.Crew does wrong

  1. I really enjoyed reading about JCrew’s social responsibility. I would be very interested to see what actions JCrew has taken when the inspections of the manufacturer’s factories do turn up an issue. Do they discontinue work with the manufacturer? We see that Apple posts their inspection results on their website but fail to take action on these factories that do not meet standards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • After reading your comment I went back on J.Crew’s website to see if I could find any written reports of inspections that they had done and I was not able to find any. This makes me wonder what they are finding in their inspections. I can imagine that they are not all perfect inspections so it worries my why they wouldn’t release any information about changes they have made. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t fixing the problems they find just made me think about why they don’t release this information. Probably because they don’t want to show customers that they have had issues to fix but I think it would be interesting to look into this issue more. I really like how you raised that question!

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  2. While reading this I kept thinking that this is what every company should be doing. J.Crew is not doing anything that is so over-the-top to give back, but are just being moral and making your all of they factory workers are being treated well. While I do commend J.Crew for doing this, shouldn’t this be the standard? It is sad to be that so many companies do not do this, so that finding a company that checks and monitors working conditions is rare.

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  3. Whose minimum wage? the host country? Or the US one, adjusting for currency and cost of living differences? If it is the host country, the code says that it expects suppliers to follow the law. Why does that need to be said?

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