There’s been a ton of buzz around Ann Taylor’s new head designer Lisa Axelson and her efforts to elevate what has become a somewhat ho-hum, too-traditional brand. Maybe you’ve seen the ads touting “the new Ann.” But have you seen the new Ann Taylor Loft fall catalog? Good gracious. I got one in the mail last week and all I could think was this is total rip-off of J.Crew. Right down to the ruffled shirts, statement jewelry, and model poses. Now, in the spirt of full disclosure, I am a J.Crew loyalist. I think that what creative director Jenna Lyons has done to replace the rugby stripes and barn jackets of yesteryear with offbeat colors, fresh layers, and luxurious accessories is nothing short of genius. HOWEVER. You can’t copy it. You’ll only miss the mark and end up looking like you’re trying too hard to be something you’re not—which is what happened to poor Ann. Please observe:
ANN TAYLOR LOFT J.CREW
Crazy, right? And there’s so much more where that came from. I’m not saying that AT’s clothes aren’t nice, or that they won’t sell. They will, and the price point is more accessible than J.Crew’s. I just wish that they had done something to really differentiate themselves. To do something new, or to do something better.