March 5, 2010

Adventures in Deception: The J. Crew Painted Sun-Faded Stanton Short

I first got excited over these shorts (and posted about them) at the end of January when J. Crew previewed them in their "Behind the Design" segment for their then-upcoming spring collection. Paint-splattered in several tones over a dark blue grey background, I thought to myself, finally, something out of the ordinary that looks like some thought and creativity were involved. But even then, I also wondered, would J. Crew actually sell something like this? The shorts were definitely on-trend in their own right, but would they appeal to the tastes of their customer base?

My suspicions were somewhat allayed (or so I thought) when I saw the GQ March 2010 spread on the best new designers in America, of which one of the pages was devoted to Frank Muytjens and his bevy of male models -- one of them, sporting the same pair of shorts I had seen previously (third from the right).

:: thanks to Gary over at tFS for scanning this in! ::

However, last week, when I checked the J. Crew website for new updates, my hopes were dashed of ever owning a pair like the ones above when I saw they had put the Painted Sun-Faded Stanton short up for sale. Offered in both a light grey and quartz -- neither of which were the original color I had seen -- the painted effect was minimal, and only done mainly in white pigment (it seems you might get a few grey streaks if you're lucky).

A part of me wanted to think, wait and see, perhaps the better version will pop online later. But reading the online description of the shorts quickly dispelled any remaining hope of that:

Brand new and one of our absolute favorite shorts for the season. We wash each pair for over 300 minutes for that perfect broken-in feel (it's as if you've had them forever), then have them garment-dyed and dusted with pigment to achieve a rich, saturated color and vintage look. Finally, each one is individually splatter painted, so no two pairs are exactly alike.

As you can see, the company is really making an effort to build up the aura and appeal behind these lesser shorts. Why in the world would they ever offer anything better?

A one last attempt at trying to track down the original pair led to my emailing -- this was the reply I received:

What a totally dissatisfying response, wouldn't you say? How does somebody, who so prominently is featured in the J. Crew lexicon, have no information on a pair of shorts that have gone out for public promotion? Perhaps he had no clue which pair of shorts I was referring to given I hadn't provided any visual aids. Unlikely. When fashion is your career, you know your product. At least Anna Wintour does, right?

On the off-chance that I truly did have to spell it out for these folks, I tried once again, this time, emailing their general customer service account,, and attaching specific images of the product. The answer I received confirmed my fears from the beginning.

The cool version of these shorts were only some ploy to garner interest and attention. How do I feel about the market rendition? How bland, how dumbed down from the original. How safe. I'm not excited over these ones, and I'm certainly not impressed that once again, J. Crew has capitalized on a far superior looking sample piece for marketing purposes only to offer a diminished watered-down interpretation in reality. I refuse to be played for a fool and to be happy with what is actually being offered.

I wonder if the sample piece will ever show up at their upcoming sample sale, as Alexis over at JCA brought to my attention (on a similar note, she too has expressed her discontent over the company's deceptive practices). Oh what I wouldn't give to at least be in New York to try and rummage around and see for myself, I don't even care if they've got "sample" stamped all over the piece.

All in all, a very unproductive foray that began with optimistic hopes and ends in disappointment. I guess I'll have to DIY a pair for myself this season...thank heavens for Refinery29...

images via unless otherwise mentioned

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