It all started with a mail-order catalog full of stonewashed chinos, twill skirts, and cotton roll-neck sweaters—available in colors like Granny Smith—that became nineties campus staples. But soon after the New York City-based company opened its South Street Seaport store in 1989, J. Crew began stretching its design arm to reach a more affluent, sophisticated customer. Today, its eight Manhattan locations are filled with stylish, comfortable fashion. Cut along classic sportswear lines, the clothes for men and women are sized accurately and fit well. Pants, a J. Crew specialty, come in three signature styles: Everyday Fit (sitting higher on the hip); Favorite Fit (at the hip); and City Fit (just below the hip). Both genders will find sophisticated conservative pieces like superfine black wool suit pants alongside quirky, rainbow-bright items in Grapefruit Yellow and Guava Pink. And while most of the outposts are in the city’s toniest zip codes, prices are reasonable to modest splurge, even for limited edition items like hand-beaded sweaters and double-faced cashmere coats. An added bonus for NYC shoppers: In each store is a red phone
that links customers to J. Crew’s We'll Find It For You service. If you want something that's out of stock, the folks on the other end of the line will search every store and outlet in the country, just to try and make you happy.