Open Letter: J. Crew and The Little White Lie
By Lauren Cohen and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team
Dear Ms. Lyons & Mr. Drexler,
I love your brand. J. Crew composes the greatest portion of my closet. I am eternally grateful to your style guides and student discounts. You have taught me that looking presentable and feminine is a beautiful and professional step forward in this world. Because of your brand, I am brazenly unforgiving about my love of simple fashion and bold accents. Everyday I wear your clothes, I feel proud to be a woman.
This is my honest opinion of you. I believe I deserve the same respect.
I was deeply impressed by your response to Jenni Avins from New York Magazine in regards to that one-of-kind swimsuit (read here), along with a series of other accolades surrounding your customer service. I feel this is the most fitting platform to discuss my concerns and gain your attention regarding your newest brand update—the rollout of size 000.
A few years ago, there was a scandal surrounding J. Crew and vanity sizing. Since the United States has no national standards on size, size inflation can happen here with little regulation. Vanity sizing is the practice of lowering sizes to reflect a change against the average sizes of industry competitors. For example, while at Ralph Lauren, you may be a size 4; at J. Crew you might be a 2 or 0. The practice is founded in the hope that consumers’ perception that they are a smaller size will boost sales. As a consumer, and a woman, I don’t love being lied to by someone I trust and admire.
There is nothing regulating you to do otherwise, you have done nothing illegal. But now, you have found yourself in an odd situation. Your size 00 is roughly a 0-2 and your petite and Asian market can’t fit into your smallest sizes. To accommodate this, you had to introduce size 000. The Internet lost its cool. As a result, you have been under great fire.
My mother always warned that lies, no matter how small, would eventually get you into trouble. (Eli and His Little White Lie by Goldie Golding is available for purchase—used—from Amazon here should you need a refresher.) What started as perhaps an innocent lie to promote body image, shifted to full-blown dishonesty that enforces an unhealthy and popular desire to be thin enough to fit a size. We experience this pressure from all other forms of media, we don’t need—or expect it—from you. You are better than that.
This could have been avoided a number of ways. If you wanted to stand out, adapt your own sizing method. Use European sizes. Offer to custom make clothes as part of your “collection” approach to higher quality and standards. I say all of this because a 000 in other markets is smaller than teenage girls clothes. Women should dress like women, not teenage girls—J. Crew taught me that.
I hold you to a higher standard, it’s true, but it is a standard you have met time and time again. You can be the brand that promotes womanhood and positive body image without lying; I truly believe that.
With love and metallic pumps,
Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics MS Candidate