July 4th Sale Roundup

Image: Deviant Art

Of course you are going to tear it up at the pool/lake/beach this weekend.  Of course you are going to grill out.  Of course you are going to shoot off some fireworks.  And of course you are going to take advantage of the huge sales that are going on.  As the proprietor of one of your stops on the Internet, I feel obliged to show you some of the goods.  I’ll keep updating this as more come to my attention…feel free to leave me a note on any great deals in the comments section.

On with the show:

Onward Reserve is offering 30% off all Spring and Summer styles.  They have a ton of stuff eligible, but I really like their Piedmont shorts.  Great colors, great cut and acceptable inseam, for $50 after the sale is applied…

Brooks Brothers is offering up to 50% off Spring and Summer styles, and up to 70% off their Clearance section.  Get over there quick.  There are 87 pages of sale items in the mens section alone.  How great is this Red Fleece shirt for $32?  Yeah, all sizes are available.

Ledbury has a great sale going on – the more you buy, the more you save, up to 30% off.  The secret here is to hit their sale section.  All the shirts are right around $100 on sale, so go in with a buddy and get four.  Then you essentially get two Ledbury shirts for half the price.  Thank me later.

State Traditions is offering 25% off SITE WIDE this weekend.  That is HUGE…go ahead and load up on your teams’ hats/visors/belt/etc.  This is their biggest sale of the year, so take advantage.

Orvis is offering an extra 25% off their sale outlet…check out these short sleeve Madras shirts.  Pair this with a pair of white jeans and some Res Ipsa loafers and you are ready to rock.

Ralph Lauren is offering an extra 30% off their sale section, and it is loaded up.  I like this RLX pullover, but REALLY like the fact that it’s only $40…  Yeah, only $40 bucks.

Bloomingdale’s has a really good sale going on: 20-60% off select items.  Lots of good stuff, but one that sticks out is the Billy Reid Pensacola polo for $57 in some great colors.  Worth stocking up.

Man Outfitters has added a TON of goods to their sale section.  This hat from Simms has to be one of the coolest I’ve seen.  Very well done.

This should come as no surprise: J. Crew is having a big sale – 40% off summer styles and an extra 40-60% off their sale section, which is completely packed.  How about this lightweight gingham shirt (with pocket flap) for $21?  Hell, get two.

REI has an extra 30% of their sale stuff.  What’s even cooler is that they’ve got a bunch of brands that you don’t usually see on sale.  Check out this Micro-Houdini Vest from Patagonia.  Super lightweight…perfect for golf, and only $54.

MORE TO COME…

4th of July BBQ Help

With the 4th of July weekend upon us, it’s time to start thinking about your grocery list, and what you’d like to serve at your backyard BBQ.  Mrs. RCS and I are taking it easy this weekend, as we’re loaded up the rest of July (more on that later).  We started the discussion earlier about what we wanted to do…

I reached out to a good buddy of mine who has been in the BBQ business for a few years.  Ryan Lane runs Lane’s BBQ out of Bethlehem, GA.  He and I went to college together, and even though we were in rival fraternities, we ran around in the same circles.  Great dude.

He’s been killing it with his rubs, sauces, and catering (yep, that was a plug).  Anyway, I got him to share a couple recipes with us.  For an appetizer, his pimento cheese, and for dinner, his smoked wings.  Commence drooling…

From Mr. Lane:

Man… I love the 4th of July and this awesome country that we get to celebrate and be a part of! For my family, it’s a time to take a pulse on how the year is going, recharge the batteries, put our toes in the sand, spend some great quality time together… and of course BBQ! Can’t forget the BBQ! Even though it’s my job now, I still love every chance I get to experiment with new recipes or tweak old ones. Plus, I don’t think I could ever get tired of hearing the kids playing and laughing in the background, while Stacey and I get to relax around the Big Green Egg and catch up with friends and family.

So what’s your favorite dish to bring to a BBQ? We love appetizers and you can never go wrong with house made pimento cheese & some really sauced up chicken wings. The messier the better in our house! Here are some of my recipes below but feel free to spice them up to fit your palate. Would love to hear how they turn out!

Lane’s House Made Pimento Cheese

Ingredients

 Directions

Shred cheddar cheese then place in bowl with rest of ingredients and mix together.

I’m pretty sure this is the fastest directions description ever. But that’s what makes it great!

…and for the wings…

Lane’s BBQ Smoked Chicken Wings

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs of Chicken Wings (wings/drums separated)
  • Lane’s BBQ rubs (I use Signature/Sweet Heat combo or SPF53)
  • Cherry wood chunks
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Lane’s BBQ Kinda Sweet Sauce

Directions

Remove wings from fridge and liberally season with Lane’s Rub. (I let them sit at room temp on the counter for 30-45 minutes before placing in smoker)

Set up Big Green Egg for indirect cooking @ 350 degrees. I would always aim for 50 degrees higher than you plan on smoking them at. That way once you put the wings on the temp will settle in around 300 degrees.

Once grill is around 350, toss in a handful of wood chunks, stir around with ash tool, place in indirect plate setter, then the grill grate. Place wings on grate and close lid. I usually flip these 1 time after about 20-25 minutes. Then, I smoke until the internal temp is around 190 degrees. Once internal temp is reached, I pour the bbq sauce in a bowl and toss the wings in the sauce. Then, I place them back on the grill for another 10-15 minutes so the sauce will start to caramelize. Then remove… let rest for about 10-15 minutes… and enjoy!!

All of our products can be purchased online at www.lanesbbq.com or visit our store locator on the site to find a location near you.

Hope y’all have a wonderful 4th of July and God Bless America!

The J. Crew Conundrum

This post has been a long-time coming.

J. Crew Spring/Summer 1989 Catalog 

I’m having a hard time understanding the ‘what’ of J. Crew.  They seem to be in a world of chasing earnings reports and making somewhat reactive moves to ensure that their losses aren’t as significant as last quarter.  Their situation has been covered quite a bit in the news, and CEO Mickey Drexler continually cites a ‘challenging retail environment’ as the cause.  I respect Drexler quite a bit, but don’t envy the position he’s in.

J. Crew produces some really great stuff.  No joke.  I like the fit of their shirts and sweaters, their pants are a great casual option, and their Ludlow loafers are still a staple in my rotation.  Mrs. RCS likes J. Crew as well, especially their shorts and workwear (she is in a business-professional environment).  As she puts it: ‘their clothes fit without having to get alterations’.  This post doesn’t touch on women’s wear; I just wanted to give some perspective from my stylish better half.

Here’s what worries me about J. Crew: I haven’t bought anything at full price.  Ever.  Neither has Mrs. RCS (that I know of).  I must get four or five emails a week from J. Crew, every one of them offering some lucrative percentage discount off either a collection, or off of everything.  In addition, their sale section is always slam packed with items, a bunch of which are from the current season.  It’s hard for me to believe that this is a good business model.

Another problem is the actual size of their collection.  There are so many choices, which ultimately moves me into an analysis-paralysis mentality.  It’s hard to shop on their site.  Sid Mashburn has been quoted as saying ‘guys don’t need that many choices when getting dressed’.  I buy that.  I purge my closet at least once a year (admittedly, I’m a bit of a clothes horse) and have become quite a stickler as to what items keeps real estate.  My brother, who is basically my size (but not nearly as good looking) always loads up.

Because of the size of their collection, Goodwills are LOADED with J. Crew.  For example, I found this shirt at last week for $5.35:

There is nothing wrong with the shirt.  In fact, it looks like it was never worn.  It is a great filler shirt.  Looks good with jeans, khakis, or shorts, and if I run into a mustard-lathered hot dog, I’ll toss it.  I’m out less than six bucks.  I’m not making the argument for Goodwill (which I think does that on it’s own), but for THE OVERABUNDANCE OF J. CREW.  This, I believe is the root of their problem.

So what do they do to fix it?  J. Crew needs to regain a feeling of EXCLUSIVITY.  From this humble blogger (and customer)’s perspective, There are a few ways I believe they can do it:

First, they have to re-train the customer not to expect to buy everything at 30%-40%-50% off.  For example, their slim-fit khakis, known as the 770s, are great, and listed at $75 a pair.  Quite frankly, this is a fair price for the fit and the quality.  The problem is that I know if I need a pair, it’s only a matter of time before I get emailed a coupon and get them for 30% or 40% off of that.  Since there are ALWAYS colors and sizes available, I have no problem waiting for anything I see in the catalog go on sale.

Second, cut the collection in half.  For example: they have 22 different styles of linen sport shirts.  No offense to linen shirt wearers, but they are like corduroy.  Idea vs. execution.  Everyone loves the idea of a linen shirt (and corduroy pants), but no one really wears them, unless you are on vacation or getting pictures made on the beach.  J. Crew should carry a couple styles of linen shirts for the tried and true, but don’t jump the shark.

A part of the Alden for J. Crew collection 

Third, stop trying to set trends, and understand your swim lane.  Ten years ago, J. Crew was a basics store that competed with The Gap.  They had a few cool and interesting pieces that provided a nice layer of icing to a relatively standard collection.  What’s wrong with that?  What is J. Crew today?  The collaborations are generally good, especially the shoes (Alden, New Balance, and Sperry), but why have so many other vendors that compete with J. Crew line (Gitman Vintage, Cordings, Lacoste, Hill Side)?  J. Crew shoppers should be there to buy J. Crew items.  Not only would this be good for brand loyalty, but the margins would be much better.

One of my favorite shirts: Thomas Mason for J. Crew navy & white gingham

Forth, design with designers, and sell products exclusive to J. Crew.  They do this with Thomas Mason (which is really only a high-end fabric company), but expand on that.  Want to carry a line of sport coats and suits?  Bring in Southwick or Oxxford to do a special line exclusively for J. Crew.  How about some exclusive Birdwell X J. Crew swimsuits in exclusive colors?  Alan Paine X J. Crew cashmere sweaters…  You get the point.  J. Crew shouldn’t sell anything in their stores that doesn’t have their logo on it, and it should be done sparingly.  For example: do three blazers in navy wool, tan camelhair, and black and cream herringbone.  Two colors of swimsuits.  Four, maybe five, colors of cashmere.  That’s it.  Keep it simple.  Keep it tight.

Finally, define the customer.  J. Crew is shockingly close to becoming a micro-fashion brand like H&M and Uniqlo.  These brands rely on quick quantity over quality, with no clear direction on their collection.  Whatever is hot, the produce it en masse.  Very Kardashian.  I believe that for J. Crew to be successful, they can’t be all things to everyone.  They have to dress a certain type of guy, and focus on dressing him well.

Extra credit: no one rolls their pants like this:

No one.

J. Crew is 100% salvageable, but they need some course correction.  As a customer, I’m pulling for them.  They have a place in the #menswear ethos, but need to become their own brand (again).

jay - June 28, 2016 - 8:37 AM

Isn’t it kind of what we talked about with Polo? Granted, J. Crew many more designers and vendors, but they could use a trim on the breadth of their offerings. Half the time, the product you do purchase is NOT from the store (see Polo). On the other hand, if you’re going to do a tight roll circa 1988/9, THAT is not how it’s executed.

Nem - June 28, 2016 - 8:45 AM

Nice write-up. Your positions are spot on, sadly. You mention Mashburn and I agree that his menswear options are superior to anything JC has available today from a quality standpoint, not to mention the “exclusivity” quotient. While I have many JC pieces in the closet, some from 1988 or 89 even, my taste in clothes has matured some and the rumpled, sandy-from-the-beach look isn’t my thing any longer.

Trip - June 28, 2016 - 9:40 AM

I agree with four of your five points, especially the breadth of their collection. The one I disagree with is price. It’s a pretty well-known fact that JCrew quality has turned to garbage over the past 10 years. It would be CRIMINAL if they actually charged full price for everything. While I do agree with the idea of getting rid of the constant sales/discounts, they need do so by selling the clothes at the sale prices, not the “full retail” price.

Cory - June 28, 2016 - 10:59 AM

Get out of my head, RCS!
Seriously though, I have a closet full of J.Crew stuff, but I haven’t bought anything from them in a long time. And if I happen to want something, I’m certainly not going to walk into the store to get it when I know I have an email in my inbox with a 30% discount code. Plus, these days their clothes just don’t appeal to me as much. I guess I have matured, but they haven’t. I spend most of my clothing dollars these days with Billy Reid and Sid Mashburn. You’re right that J.Crew could be saved, but they need to have the willingness to do so. Right now, they just seem like a discount store.

Seth - June 28, 2016 - 11:00 AM

I think their biggest issue is that there is no clear style direction. Is it streetwear? Is it preppy? There’s no consistency. Whenever they branch out and do something eclectic to match streetwear trends, they end up on a sale rack. However, I’ve never seen a university striped oxford or a khaki pair of chinos on deep sale with an extra 50% off. Stick with the “preppy” staples and stop trying to peddle so many pairs of selvedge jeans for $200. Stay in your lane.

To follow that up, they are competing with themselves primarily. Their “Factory” store is just cheaper versions of their main line. Frequently, a well-selling style is reproduced with cheaper fabric and sold at their factory. Why not simply restock that item if it is so popular?

They need to make some premium line that isn’t primarily geared towards the RRL, Mumford-and-Sons-dressing crowd like Wallace & Barnes is. The women’s line has it, why can’t the men’s? Have a company like New England Shirt Co make premium oxfords and slap a fancy new J.Crew logo on them like Epaulet in NY does. Maybe then they could compete with Gitman Vintage and the like, but right now they just don’t cut it.

My apologies for writing this like I’m penning a letter to the CEO, but I’m happy someone finally shed light on what I’ve been thinking for awhile.

GTBT - June 28, 2016 - 1:12 PM

This issue began in ~2008 when JCrew realized that it could begin expanding and increasing it’s sales.

This is a simple, cyclical, corporate issue that isn’t exclusive to JCrew.

Pathways for market share are fraught with peril. But one thing is for certain: what you have gained, you will someday lose.

MRS - June 28, 2016 - 2:44 PM

Agreed that the problem is that J.Crew doesn’t seem to have direction – is it preppy? Is it hipster or streetwear? These are issues that have plagued Banana Republic for over a decade (I worked there – I know). I think the comparison to Mashburn is a little unfair because J.Crew has operated at a slightly lower price point, and the less said about Billy Reid, the better. The confusion at J.Crew reminds me of a more pronounced version of the confusion at GAP – a place where a guy could usually go for basics in khakis/shorts, polos, basic tees, maybe even sweaters and shirts – but now, you don’t know what you’ll find from one season to the next. Price is an issue, though, so I guess it’s fair to circle back to Sid. If you’ve got the scratch to pay regular price at JC, why not spend a few bucks more and go with Sid.

Funny enough, Ivy Style has a nice piece up today about J. Crew’s Prep Shoppe.

Scott Seaton - June 28, 2016 - 2:57 PM

I quit shopping at J Crew 2 years ago when they quit carrying size 38 waist shorts and pants in the store. I am not a big guy, but I haven’t walked into a store since. BONOBOS gets all my clothes money now. Everything fits the same way everytime!!

Stephen - June 28, 2016 - 4:04 PM

I agree with Trip. Either make the clothes less expensive or make sure the quality is such that the clothes are actually worth paying retail for. Right now there’s no reason to buy sub-quality clothes that may or may not fit for anything more than 40% off.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they shut down a bunch of main line stores and replaced them with J Crew Factory (or the classier “Mercantile” as they sometimes call it) which seems to be doing a better job of competing with the fast fashion stores like H&M (and is seemingly always having a sale). Might not be a terrible idea, and would give them the chance to make the main line more exclusive.

Bobby Rooney - June 28, 2016 - 7:58 PM

Hysterically, i bought an Irish linen shirt from them today. I’m going on vacation. $65 down to $23. I also picked up a pair of 770s. under $18. plus a few shirts for my mrs. It was all so cheap I sprung for the express shipping.

As a former employee (in CT and NYC in the mid-late 90s) Crew breaks my heart lately.

One thing you forgot to mention: the collars. Any smaller and they won’t cover the tie.

I will say, though, they seem to have changed their oxford fabric recently, and the latest shirt I bought is probably the nicest OCBD I’ve ever had, by feel.

Jeff - June 30, 2016 - 1:19 PM

This is a great post. It’s all well and good for us to lament changes at places like JCrew and Brooks Bros, but they have to sell to a much broader audience than trad/clothes horse types. Very difficult to stay true to the brand, and old core customers, when said customers age and start buying SAS shoes to wear on cruise ships.

Allen Edmonds faces a similar existential crisis, and I think they are doing as good as can be expected in an increasingly casual world.

The J. Crew Conundrum « Fashion - June 28, 2016 - 10:02 PM

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Brooks Brothers Semi-Annual Sale – Ends Tomorrow

Team – Brooks Brothers is doing their Semi-Annual sale right now.  BIG savings.  One of the best: buy four dress or sport shirts and get 40% off.  I’m hooking up with a buddy and getting a couple of the Original Polo Must-Iron Oxfords (the ones that have a natural collar), and I’ll do a review:

Did you pick anything up?  Let’s hear it…

College World Series

The College World Series is one of my favorite events of the year.  I have been a big baseball fan all my life.  I love the strategy, as well as the team aspect.  One player can’t win the game.  It’s a total team effort.  Every game has one winner and one loser.  Pure.

It’s pretty easy to argue that baseball at the college level is the purest form.  These guys aren’t getting paid, save for the typical scholarship benefits.  It’s a ‘love of the game’ perspective that makes every game really fun to watch.  Well, that and the aluminum bats…

With the Arizona Wildcats defeating Oklahoma State and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers’ win over TCU, the College World Series Finals are set. Coastal Carolina and Arizona will meet in the best of three series that begins tonight at 7PM EST on ESPN.

I’m pumped.  My pick?  I’m going Coastal.

Mark Bates - June 27, 2016 - 11:36 AM

GO CHANTICLEERS!

Summer Dog Safety from Orvis

To all you dog owners, and dog lovers: do me a favor and print this out.  Orvis put this together and I like to publish it every year.  It’s really getting hot down here in the South, and you need to manage your fine, four-legged better half.  He (or) she still has all the energy that you’ve come to know and love.  #FrankDawg and I went through these, and he is seriously into #3, the kiddie pool.  Quite frankly, I’m happy to oblige…

Frank says: ‘Stay cool…’

East Dane Sale

Head’s up: There’s a good sale going on over at East Dane.  They are offering an extra 25% off everything in their sale section.  For those that don’t know, East Dane has a HUGE sale section.  Be on the lookout for a bunch of Billy Reid and Katin, among others.  Get in and dig around…