I make no bones about really liking what J. Crew has been up to the last few years, and I’m definitely not alone in this opinion. Collaborations with such hallowed names as Belstaff, Barbour, Alden, Crockett & Jones, Globetrotter, Baracuta, Mackintosh, Woolrich, Thomas Mason, Levi’s, Sperry, adidas, Converse Jack Purcell, Selima Optique, Timex, Red Wing, Quoddy, Mister Freedom, Clark’s and Rolex have made them a one-stop shopping destination for some of the coolest gear out there. This is an idea that’s turned out so well, that it’s been borrowed by their competitors, including Banana Republic. Furthermore, their everyday collection has reached nearly “must-have” status for style (and budget conscious) gentlemen, with their “secret wash” cotton button down shirts being first choice weekend wear for me, with their casually rumpled cool. In other words, the men (and women) at J. Crew have really created something special out of a brand that, 5 or 6 years ago, was kind of like a Toyota Camry: reliable, but entirely unremarkable.
The only big downside for Canadian J. Crew fans is that we don’t have any actual, brick-and-mortar, J. Crew stores. We’ve been stuck shopping online and via catalogue. This doesn’t seem too bad on the surface, but shopping in this way creates two major issues: first, you have to tack on international shipping to every order, even a pair of socks; and second, Canadians get hit by nasty customs duties and the infamous “customs brokerage fees” that UPS arbitrarily pays itself. I’ve had orders almost double in price because of these two nasty little additions. Plus, there’s the fact that you can’t try anything on before you buy it unless you want to cross the border and pretty much anything you purchase takes a week and half to get to you.
Well fellow Canadians, this will soon be a thing of the past – if you live in Toronto, that is. According to their new catalog, J. Crew is opening a store in Toronto in 2011. Details are minimal right now, but at least we have a fixed date to look forward to. In the mean time, you can check out J. Crew’s online store here.