Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An open letter to JCrew

Dearest JCrew,

I love you and hate you JCrew. You continue to make the cutest clothes ever but you are getting really expensive. I applaud this whole "finest quality" thing you're doing. It's really great. I'm so down with artisans and old world quality and style. I'm a classics girl - I get it. The shoes and bags you're doing... spectacular, really. The purple cashmere coat that would look so amazing on me for $1800 f*ing fantastic.

But I'm ready to make you a deal. I'll totally give up a few of my catalogs lets say 3 or 4...a year and in return you can reduce the prices by say 25% on most everything? I think it's a great trade actually, here's why: I know my fair share about production and printing costs so I can tell you that you probably spend somewhere in the neighborhood of the following:

PRINTING • I know that you probably web press your catalogs with a price tag of a few hundred thousand dollars per run. Lets call it 275k with change orders.
PHOTOGRAPHER• and you hire a photographer at 5-8k a day and he has a couple of assistants say at $400 a day each.
STUDIO FEES• If you're in the studio then you have the studio fees lets call those $1500 a day and you shoot a lot of pieces, so you're probably there for 5-7 days so that's another 10k.
ON LOCATION• If you're on location in one of your European cities you'll have flights for everyone as well as permit costs, tack on another 300k for all of that.
PHOTOG'S RENTALS • and the photogs lighting and digital package lets call that 15k for that many days. I might have been generous with that number by the way.
TALENT COSTS• then you have models and it's national advertising so those girls are probably 3-4k a day at a minimum don't forget their travel costs $1000 a piece to fly them in locally for studio work and then they will get a full day's rate on the front and back of the shoot for travel so add in 2 more days and a per Diem. So lets call that 5k per day per girl, you average about 4-6 girls per book. So 150k for talent. That's for a local shoot.
HAIR AND MAKEUP• a couple of makeup and hair people say at $600 a day each
STYLISTS WITH ASSISTANTS• a stylist with a couple of assistants so lets put that group at 2k a day, if in Europe you'll need a prop person too I think, lets get someone local though.Possibly he or she can translate for us an save a few bucks. This person only wants to be paid in Euros though so it's $800 American dollars per day on that one. Don't tell the stylists though, they'll be pissed this ass-wipe is getting paid more than them doing half the work.
PRODUCER • and a producer at $750 a day and he or she will need to be on the job for a week+ for studio work, or if you're in Europe give him or her 3 weeks pre shoot and one week post to sort through billing. They'll need at least one assistant while we're at it, 2 in Europe. That will put you about 45k+ for production.
HOTELS AND RENTAL CARS• and possibly hotels for the photog and his crew and a couple of the clients if you're in the studio so that's 25k+ in hotels and transport charges.
FOOD AND CATERING• If you're in the studio you'll probably have a kraft services person on staff because you're JCrew and studio days are long-ass days $1500 per day. On location you'll go out for a fantastic dinner so that's a 3k tab with a few bottles of wine per night.
ASSISTANTS • and a couple of P.A's at $250 a day because I'm being generous and errands need to be run.
THE FLUFF POT • I'm sure I forgot some things here so lets tack on another 20k just to grease palms on location. Those Europeans, they'll want a little cash.
That's all for one season or 1/2 depending on if you do location and studio work.

Yes, I know you reuse those images for a whole season and you're doing an AWESOME job branding your wares lately, really nice but you print 3 or so catalogs with some of the same images and that's about 250-275k worth of printing per catalog, not to mention the flat rate shipping costs on books that size. If I give up, say, one book every quarter, I'm saving you over a million dollars [with postage] per year. And then if I give up the European shoots [Italy was my fav by the way, the one with the Vespa on the cover] we could save another probably...500k maybe more. Amazing things can be created in the studio. I think it would be swell really, you could lower your costs just a tad, you know... our economy and such... and then you could tell everyone you're being "environmental" and using less trees all in the name of "conservation". Your customer base will totally be down with it, I'm sure they're all "greening-the-shit-out-of-something" everyone is these days. In return, I promise to save every catalog until the next one arrives.

Or even better... do a special digital mag. I love to "research at work" I'll be happy to flip through every. single. last. page. Call up CB2, they've already got the back end coding built for it they do that shit all the time now. I'm sure they would be happy to sell it to you for a small fee.

All my love,

JCrew's new catalog is out by the way. The vintage flowers they have on sweaters and jackets are so sweet but they're not yet up on the website I'm sure they'll be a lovely $$. Did I mention the pale pink pointed flats with a wee bit of heel? heavenly $168 not up yet either. The quilted purple quincy hobo $298 Shut up! it's so cute.


Brilliant Asylum said...

This is so true. If everyone would just spend less on the front end, our economy would be back to normal in no time. I am still wondering why it costs 4 million dollars to put on a presidential candidate debate. You need two podiums and a blue curtain. Done.

Richie Designs said...

it's the union crew behind the camera, the union guys that build the set who make $75 an hour and overtime after 8 hours on the dot, the art director behind the camera, the catering crew to feed those union set builders, the lighting package to make the old guys look better, among other things.

when you think about it 4 mill is reasonable.

Jennifer said...

Um, WORD to every last thing you just said.

By the way, they are apparently "sold out" of the flowers. Even though they never offered them for sale in the first place. I'm totally not kidding.

Raven said...

My hubs works in this industry and yer right...they spend soooo much money on just advertising alone. He did the winter Gap ads [the log cabin scenes]. They rebuilt the set alone at least twice...at astronomical cost. I went to one of the sound stages they were shooting on and the 10-20 workers were building 3 sides of an actual cabin with windows. CRAZY! Everyone has their hand out to get paid...and the consumer ends up paying in the end.

I didn't see a cost of retouching in your numbers...did I miss it? That's about the same rate as the photog. per day. Yikes!

I don't buy J.Crew anymore cuz, as you mentioned, they are just getting way too expensive. If I'm gonna spend that sort of money, I want something other than the J.Crew label. LOL