I feel as if I am qualified to express some opinions on this after a day spent browsing the new wares (and consignment offerings).
What I observed: J. Crew quality in the store was very mixed. I used to find them quite reliable, at times even excellent (even 2 years ago) and I still have many older J. Crew items going strong in my closet. But I feel there has been a drop in standards overall, although some select items looked reasonable.
Banana Republic: I was disappointed with most of what I saw. I tried on a mid-coat, for instance, but the fit was poor and the quality of the wool blend was scratchy and not nice. I'll do a post about it later on if I can. I also tried on a few knits and may purchase one because for the (sale) price it may give decent value for money. We don't have the Japan exclusive line in Canada, which disappointed me, because it looks terrific.
Aritzia: Mixed, with some nicer looking items, but others with loose threads hanging, icky fabrication, etc. I won't rule them out, but I won't rule them in, either. Also, I am apparently invisible to all SAs in their stores, which can be both good and bad, depending.
Club Monaco: The quality looked great, actually. I didn't try anything on, but I liked the look of quite a few of the offerings more than I've liked their lines for the past few years. The stuff looked more wearable again.
Zara: The store, as usual, was a disaster. In the past I've had surprisingly good luck with some Zara items, but the ones I bought this year disintegrated on me really quickly. I did get tremendous wear from the pants, but still...I'm going to think hard before returning there for anything this season, especially now that I have better consignment options for the types of wildcard or "fun" items I might previously have sourced there.
I also went into The Bay and Nordstrom's. The Bay, at 6:30 pm on a week night in downtown Vancouver, was a ghost town. I was the ONLY person in The Room. I was actually almost the only person on the entire floor (including SAs, ha!)
The stuff in the Room (everything from Balmain and Emporio Armani to Rag and Bone) was uniformly GORGEOUS and stunning quality. Also, very very pricey. I have always loved looking at extremely high end clothes though, because even if I can never buy something like this, I get to know what great construction looks like.
Moving on, I also viewed lines like Theory, Sandro, Maje, Eileen Fisher, etc. etc. Quality in these lines also looked terrific, but again, the price point is higher than most of us here on this forum are able or willing to pay on a regular basis. And I tried on a Theory blazer that had a big fat obvious flaw on it -- a rough and ragged patch as if something had shredded it! That surprised me.
Nordstrom carries many of the same higher end lines. Their lower end house brand stuff looked like exactly that. It compared with the BR and maybe J. Crew, and did not wow me at all. The store was a bit busier but people were not necessarily buying. They were eating/ drinking, and browsing.