Several years ago most of my wardrobe came from J Crew but as it skewed more blingy and the quality declined I went elsewhere. I think they created many of their own issues by cheapening the brand with poor quality and too many sales. Seriously - why by anything full price at J Crew? I also question why Nordstroms is selling J Crew. Why would I pay full price at Nordstroms for something I can walk down the mall or across the street to get on sale?

Another vote for quality decline at crew. I have a sweater from 15 years ago that still looks amazing. Similar sweaters from the past 5 or so years fall apart or pill in a season-some sooner. But this is not just them-I have found this to happen from other old favorites like Ann Taylor, LOFT and BR. This year I have stopped buying sweaters from this type of retailer altogether, no matter how cute I think they are. In their place I am shopping at indy online only retailers like Grana and Everlane and Eileen Fisher. No more Nordstrom either as I hae also noticed a decline in their house brands while at the same time a huge change in the CS experience there. They no longer stand by their product when worn it seems.
One thing I have been buying for years at J crew is handbags. Hate branded bags and theirs were simple and of great quality and color selection. Not anymore though-very bad workmanship and quality in the last couple years sadly.

Karie, it will be interesting to hear about your Factory experience. I think our Factory has been chosen for this "resale" duty, so it's not typical. See or ask if they ever get JCrew Collection through their clearance, and that will tell you. (We do, which I think is very unusual -- but because it's often damaged, it's not as great as it sounds.)

RE: quality. You all know I am a huge JCrew fan and wear a ton of their clothing, but I do think some things have gone downhill. I still remember a violet cashmere sweater from about 12 years ago that was MUCH plusher then any they sell now. And, it NEVER pilled. God knows why I got rid of it (too much purging!). In the past 3-4 years I've purchased soft wool sweaters from JC that have pilled almost instantly. And my daughter had to return shoes that literally broke (heel became unglued) the second time she wore them. I don't have any problems with tees, and I adore their dress pants, but wool and cashmere are very tricky in my experience. And a lot of people are very vocal about JC's increased reliance on synthetics (more poly, less silk) - if you care about that.

RE: service. I would expect Angie to get stellar service anywhere, especially where she is known, but even still, my experience with JCrew has been overall very good, and whenever I have called or chatted online with a problem, they have been really really good about making things right. But really, I have gotten fantastic service and iffy service from pretty much every brand. Depends on the store and the day. Reps are people who have their ups and downs, and some brands are better than others at training and inspiring. I think overall, JCrew is pretty good at this.

Just chiming back in to comment on the service issue. I believe the stores have not done a good job of aligning their Online and Retail stores. The stores often get penalized for online returns and not making sales and I think that makes the clerks edgy. Maybe people look at the store and then order online and somehow the store should get credit for that. I also have old J Crew sweaters that are so wonderfully made I expect I will have them a long time. I do appreciate their more fun quirky items and their coats are awesome!

Another fan of JCrew coats here. I used to love their shoes as well (a few years ago), now not so much. Sad to see Jenna going.

wanted to add this very interesting analysis of the situation from the NYT fashion critic & one of the fashion reporters, outlining the unprecedented line between mass-market and high fashion that jcrew & jenna lyons in particular tried to walk...if you are intrested in the business of fashion as well as fashion it worth a read....