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Last Updated on January 5, 2022
What brands do you think of when you need to go shopping for wardrobe essentials and timeless closet staples?
If the answer is J. Crew, you’re not alone!
The company became iconic as a maker of business wear and for providing top-quality knits, classic blazers, and neutral shirts.
That said, in recent years J. Crew declined in popularity and went into bankruptcy exiting it in 2020 thanks to new owners.
If their decline in quality and design has put you off, it might be time to diversify your shopping sources with a these brands that offer foundation pieces with a little extra, like standout staples or innovative design in basics.
Read on to find out more about my top choices for men and women!
What makes J. Crew tick?
Main qualities of the brand:
- Good quality
- Staple office wear
- Great basics
- Great cut
- Impeccable style
- Smart pieces
- Easily combinable
- Lasting and sophisticated design
- Neutral aesthetic
- Basic items
- Colorful options
Most desired items:
Read: Is J. Crew a Good Brand?
Alternative J. Crew Brands for Men
#1. Alex Mill
Overview: Alex Mill launched in 2012 with one simple goal: to make the perfect shirt. After that, the brand evolved into different staples for customers who valued quality and design that never goes out of style. They produce clothing that is very similar to J. Crew.
Price Range: $$
Origin and Concept: The idea behind Alex Mill is that no one really needs more clothes, but what they do need is the right clothes. They create timeless styles without changing the core that makes them a staple in the first place. Uncomplicated, perfect, and iconic clothing that is easy to match and makes dressing a no-brainer.
Recommended Clothing: Mill Shirt in Paper Cotton & Reverse Seam Sweater in SuperFine Merino Wool
Celebs who are fans: Oprah Winfrey, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jessica Alba, Kerry Washington, and Katie Holmes.
Ethical Practices: The brand is very involved in curving textile waste by recycling textile scraps, upcycling unsold inventory, and extending the life of their already bought products. They have an extensive and transparent rundown of what actions they are taking on each of these issues on this page on their website.
Overview: Madewell shares many of the qualities of J. Crew and it is actually owned by them. Aesthetically, it is also very similar but with a more youthful approach. They also focus greatly on creating casual staples.
Price Range: $$
Origin and Concept: The company was originally founded in 1937, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, as a workwear company. It was revamped after Mickey Drexler, former chief executive of J. Crew, acquired it. It now caters to young and hip individuals who like to dress casually and makes most of its revenue from wholesale relationships like Nordstrom.
Recommended Clothing: Garment-Dyed Relaxed Straight Workwear Pants
Celebs who are fans: Ashley Medkwe, Charlize Theron, and Anne Hathaway.
Ethical Practices: Despite some improvements made by the company both in their Corporate Social Responsibility and their supply chain, they continue to have a majority of products that do not comply with either ethical or sustainable standards.
#3. Ministry of Supply
Overview: Ministry of Supply was created to solve a common problem for people in the business sector: clothes that are high maintenance, stiff, and difficult to produce.
Price Range: $$
Origin and Concept: This high-performance business wear based in Boston was founded in 2012 by students of the former Massachusetts Institute of Technology using the temperature regulating material that NASA uses for their astronaut’s clothing. Isn’t that awesome? Their goal is to design the best products possible through scientific research, with an eye on innovative materials, and human-centered design. They create sweat-proof, flexible, and machine-washable apparel.
Recommended Clothing: Men’s Aero Zero Carbon Neutral Dress Shirt & Men’s Velocity Suit Jacket.
Ethical Practices: The company places a huge emphasis on being responsible for the environment. They are Climate Neutral Certified, use sustainable dyeing and bio-based waterproofing, as well as recycled and recyclable fabrics.
Overview: With a simple aesthetic and an unbeatable low price, H&M is a cheaper version of J. Crew with a wide range, if you want the aesthetic but in a more accessible package.
Price Range: $
Origin and Concept: Hennes & Mauritz, commonly known as H&M, is a Swedish multinational company that manufactures fast-fashion clothing for men, women, and children. The brand is known for delivering fashion and moderate-quality at a budget price. They offer a huge variety of garments, covering a lot of basic staples and business proper attires.
Recommended Clothing: Skinny Fit Suit Pants & Skinny Fit Blazer.
Celebs who are fans: Brooklyn Decker, Ginnifer Goodwin, Rashida Jones, Rooney Mara, and Michelle Williams.
Ethical Practices: Their efforts to produce clothing in a sustainable way have grown exponentially in recent years. However, the bulk of their products is still not made in a sustainable way. Despite having set a science-based target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and be climate positive by 2040, the brand continues to operate under a fast-fashion business model.
#5. Club Monaco
Overview: Club Monaco is a Canadian high-end casual clothing company. The retailer is owned by the Ralph Lauren Corporation.
Price Range: $$
Origin and Concept: Club Monaco was founded in 1985, in Toronto. It is known the world over for well-designed, high-quality casual clothing. Its original goal was to create better basics that were classic, effortless and that made their customers’ lives easier.
Recommended Clothing: Cashmere Ombre Crewneck Sweater & Tech-Enabled Suede Blocked Gloves.
Celebs who are fans: Billie Eilish, Candice King, Claire Holt, and Adele.
Ethical Practices: It uses few eco-friendly materials and there is no evidence it is actively doing anything to achieve its greenhouse gas emissions goal.
Alternative J. Crew Brands for Women
#1. Veronica Beard
Overview: Veronica Beard is an American contemporary luxury brand for work clothes. They focus on business casual apparel.
Price Range: $$$
Origin and Concept: It was founded by Veronica Swanson Beard and her sister-in-law Veronica Miele Beard in 2009. In 2012 it debuted in New York Fashion Week. Their tailoring is impeccable and their sizing is always true. They manufacture pieces of clothing all over, with shoes incoming from Italy and such.
Recommended Clothing: Ruched Shirtdress.
Celebs who are fans: Meghan Markle, Leighton Meester, Gillian Hearst, Theresia Gouw, Billie Eilish, Amita Suman, Danielle Galligan, Elizabeth Lail, and Chrishell Stause.
Ethical Practices: The brand actively donates a portion of every purchase to its charity organization. They showcase the real impact those donations have through features of their #VBGivesBack and its nonprofit organization. They also get involved as volunteers in different activities and celebrate numerous charity events every quarter.
Overview: Uniqlo is a Japanese casual wear brand that designs, manufactures, and retails clothing items. They offer basics that are current and usually depict graphic designs and artists of whatever is trending at the moment. They also have thoughtful details and are of great quality. As far as J. Crew alternatives go, Uniqlo is one of the best due to the price/quality relation.
Price Range: $
Origin and Concept: Initially the brand opened its doors in May 1984, in Hiroshima, under the name: “Unique Clothing Warehouse”. They sold unisex casual wear. However, in 1988, during administrative work in Hong Kong, the staff misread the C as a Q, and the brand name was born. When creating their clothing, Uniqlo embraces the philosophy of Shun that encompasses timing and how something can be a trend and at the same time be at its best timing. Another precept of the brand is Kino-bi that means function and beauty joined together, presenting things in a beautiful and organized logical manner that creates an artistic pattern.
Recommended Clothing: Women Seamless down long coat.
Celebs who are fans: Daisy Ridley, Jamie Chung, Lily-Rose Depp, Kendall Jenner, and Emilia Clarke.
Ethical Practices: The brand uses some eco-friendly materials including recycled materials. But they could certainly do more.
Overview: Mango is a Spanish clothing design and manufacturing company. It caters to women’s men’s and kid’s apparel.
Price Range: $$
Origin and Concept: It was originally founded in Barcelona, Spain, by Isak Andic and Nahman Andic. Mango is a retailer that is often lauded for its high quality and amazing design. There are a lot of investment pieces that are worth the splurge and they often feature huge sales that make their store affordable to more people.
Recommended Clothing: Flowers knit sweater.
Celebs who are fans: Kate Moss, Miranda Kerr, Letizia Princess of Asturia, and Sofia Chufy de Betak.
Ethical Practices: Mango uses some eco-friendly materials like organic cotton but there is no evidence that they reduce their carbon footprint or have any other eco-friendly measure in motion.
#4. La Ligne
Overview: La Ligne is a top fashion brand with a love for lines that creates beautiful wardrobe staples. They market themselves as your destination for striped essentials. Clothes you “eat, drink, dance and sleep in”.
Price Range: $$$
Origin and Concept: It was founded by Vogue editors Valerie Macaulay, and Meredith Melling together with Rag and Bone’s former head of business development, Molly Howard. Their goal is to empower women of all ages with effortless self-expression.
Recommended Clothing: Carey dress.
Celebs who are fans: Amy Schumer.
Ethical Practices: They have designed some small capsule collections of sustainable sweaters made of recycled plastic. However, there is not enough evidence to say more about their ethical practices.
Overview: Joie creates everyday styles that can easily transition from work to weekend. They cater to a demanding audience, with top-notch quality and slightly folksy designs.
Price Range: $$$
Origin and Concept: The contemporary brand creates feminine collections that value their customer’s ease and comfort over everything else.
Recommended Clothing: Alquina Silk Midi Dress.
Celebs who are fans: Christina Stembel, Anna-Alexia Basile, Michele Ouellet, Tiffany Duggan, Ashley Petrone, Claudia Mata Gladish and Christina Messineo.
Ethical practices: There is little information on their sourcing or manufacturing practices. In regards to their leather they have turned away from the use of animal skin and animal derivatives in their manufacturing process, among other unsustainable materials.