There’s J.Crew, J.Crew Factory, J.Crew Mercantile, J.Crew Baby…
The list probably goes on from there, but my eyes have already glazed over.
Listen, I was just as confused as you are by all the different J.Crew’s out there. And when I dove in to finally figure out if there’s an actual material quality difference between the various brand names, I was pretty shocked by what I found.
You can think of it as almost an entirely different brand. So what makes it different? I’ll dive into all the details now.
J.Crew vs J.Crew Factory Overview
|Fabric||Much more natural fibers||Weighted toward synthetic fibers|
|Fit||Consistent, contemporary||Inconsistent, strange proportions|
|Comfort||Average level of comfort||Average level of comfort|
|Customer Experience||$5 shipping, return in store or $7.50 online||$7 shipping, $7.50 online returns|
|Shop J.Crew||Shop J.Crew Factory|
J.Crew is the original. A lot of people are surprised when they check out J.Crew because they expect bargain basement prices, but then they find a $100 sweater and gasp.
While it’s true that the Crew does have deep discount sales about once every three months, their clothes from the flagship brand are built well and have a more refined fit. So they’re not super cheap.
If you’re looking for a few high quality basics like a button down, chinos, and maybe a sweater, J.Crew is a fantastic place to pick up those few key pieces.
I don’t think J.Crew has anything stunning that I absolutely love, but I’m always happy to pick up a simple, basic piece from them that I know I’ll get a lot of use from.
Take their oxford shirts, for example—they fit well, the fabric quality is good, and the price isn’t exorbitant. No one is going to ask me where I got my shirt from, but it gets the job done and I’m confident wearing it.
J.Crew is also a great place to find clothes if you’re a shorter gent or a huskier fellow. Their range of sizes is quite impressive, so guys that fall outside of the average length or width can still find plenty of options to choose from.
What I Like
- J.Crew clothes are good quality and the fabrics are sturdy and well made.
- They do deep discounts often, which makes it easy to find good deals on basics.
- Their range of sizes is excellent, so guys outside of average height or weight can still find clothes that fit well.
What I Don’t Like
- None of their clothes are “stand out” impressive.
J.Crew Factory makes their own designs, has their own manufacturers, etc. It’s essentially a different brand.
On the plus side, a shirt from J.Crew Factory typically costs about half what a comparable shirt might cost from J.Crew.
On the negative side, every single thing about the shirt will be worse, from the fabric, to the fit, to the durability.
If I’m honest with you, I don’t recommend buying J.Crew Factory clothes. Even if you think the shirt looks good online, their stuff always fits weird.
So while you think you’re saving some money by buying an oxford for $20, you wear it a few times and never feel confident in it. So the minute it stops “feeling new,” you stuff it in the back of your closet and never wear it again.
J.Crew Factory is decent if you need to stock up your clothes. They are able to clothe your body and hide your nakedness.
But beyond that, I’ve never had a piece from J.Crew Factory that I’ve worn year after year and really got the full value out of. I do have some pieces from regular ol’ J.Crew that I’ve been wearing for 4-5 years now.
What I Like
- J.Crew Factory clothes cost around half as much as J.Crew.
- When J.Crew Factory goes on clearance, the deals get pretty insane.
- They have a massive range of clothes, so you can find a few things that will get you through the season.
What I Don’t Like
- J.Crew Factory quality control is poor, so everything seems to fit strangely. This means you wear the clothes less often (or not at all), so even though it’s cheaper, you get less use out of it, and therefore get less value for your money.
J.Crew Factory is decent if you need to stock up your clothes. They are able to clothe your body and hide your nakedness. But beyond that, I’ve never had a piece from J.Crew Factory that I’ve worn year after year and really got the full value out of. I do have some pieces from regular ol’ J.Crew that I’ve been wearing for 4-5 years now.
Features Face to Face
My biggest issue with J.Crew Factory is this: you can buy five t-shirts from them and they’d all fit differently.
And that’s true if you literally buy five of the same exact product in the same color. It’s almost as if they try to make sure every garment fits a little different than the next.
It gets especially confusing when you get an L from Factory, find it fits too big, so you get an M, and it’s skin tight.
So you switch to regular J.Crew and get an L, and it fits fine. There’s no consistency of fit between brands, but J.Crew Factory doesn’t even have consistency of fit within their own individual products.
I’m not trying to bash J.Crew Factory: this is just the case with any fast-fashion deep discount brand. It’s true of GAP Factory and H&M, too. It’s part of the deal you make. You can buy a $12 shirt. But part of how they get that shirt to cost $12 is that they spend virtually no time paying attention to the details.
So sometimes the arm gets sewn on at a slightly off angle. Sometimes threads aren’t tightened up, so you just have a hanging thread and loose seam.
As for J.Crew, their fits are at least consistent. And I’ve found that they work well with a contemporary style.
J.Crew still isn’t the best when it comes to keeping all their sizes roughly the same, but it’s a massive leap in quality from J.Crew Factory.
After studying clothing brands for the past four years, I’ve learned that fit is actually the biggest driver in terms of getting a good value for your money.
When a shirt fits well, you wear it a lot.
Even if the fabric is iffy—when it fits right, it looks good. When it looks good, you wear it as often as you can.
So when you’re searching for your ideal brand, focus on a brand that has an item that fits you exactly the way you want it to. That might even mean you’re spending $40 on a t-shirt. And that sounds expensive, but in terms of the value you get from it—it’s actually a better deal. Ok, rant over.
J.Crew carries a greater variety of clothes, especially with seasonal items. So for sweaters, activewear, suits (such as the Ludlow Suit, which I’m a big fan of), and accessories, you’ll have better luck with J.Crew.
But J.Crew Factory still has an absolutely massive catalog of clothes to choose from. I’ve also noticed that J.Crew Factory often has a broader range of big and tall sizes as well.
Both J.Crew and J.Crew Factory go deep on preppy style basics, so if you can’t stop yourself from wearing a rugby shirt three times a week, J.Crew is your happy place.
Neither offer free online returns: you’ll have $7.50 deducted from your refund, which is a bit annoying, but I get why they need to as a huge brand.
Don’t expect a ton of in-depth customer service from either brand—there’s simply too many inquiries for them to respond to individual questions on fit or sizing.
A lot of times with smaller brands, you can get that one on one service, but with J.Crew, there’s no chance.
Overall, the customer experience with J.Crew is a little better than J.Crew Factory, but not by a significant margin. But the ability to return your clothes in the store is fantastic.
J.Crew vs J.Crew Factory: Which Is Best for You?
I recommend shopping just with J.Crew. Skip J.Crew Factory if you can.
J.Crew Factory’s clothes are so cheap and quickly made—nothing seems to fit well. And even if you get five of the same exact t-shirt (same model, same color), it’s like each of them fit differently. The quality control for J.Crew Factory is poor.
So while you think you’re getting a good deal on a $10 t-shirt, you’re actually just getting an ill-fitting shirt that you’ll hardly ever wear.
To me, it makes much more sense (from a fashion and frugality standpoint) to spend a little more on clothes that you love and that fit well.
Can you return items from J.Crew Factory to J.Crew?
No, J.Crew Factory and J.Crew are different brands, so you’re unable to return Factory items to J.Crew. It’s similar to how you can’t return Banana Republic items to GAP. The names are confusing, but J.Crew Factory and J.Crew are different brands.
How do I tell the difference between J.Crew Factory and regular J.Crew?
Do J.Crew Factory items run small?
J.Crew Factory clothes tend to run on the small side, though that’s not the case 100% of the time because their sizing is often very inconsistent.