Not everyone would agree that J. Crew is affordable, but that reputation has been its key to surviving the retail sector's toughest stretch in decades. And it's also what makes Michelle Obama's association with the brand so sticky, despite the fact that she has worn J. Crew only a handful of times since the inauguration. "It's quite special that women readily have access to very same clothes the First Lady of the United States wears," says Mary Tomer, creator of Mrs. O, a blog that tracks outfits worn by Michelle Obama.
Even if it's overblown, her endorsement will be milked by J. Crew for whatever it may be worth. The company created a landing page breaking down the elements of the outfit Michelle wore on The Tonight Show and another after she wore J. Crew in a Vogue photo shoot. The retailer has also purchased Google ads linking to jcrew.com that appear alongside searches for "Michelle Obama."
Still, it seems that the frenzy to buy the items she has worn fizzles quickly. Either the items sell out almost immediately or they linger on the Web site and lose their appeal. Two pieces she has recently worn, a yellow argyle cardigan and the same sweater in purple, have been demoted to the sale section on jcrew.com. As for the rest of the Obama family, J. Crew is making sure that the publicity they've provided isn't as short-lived. The retailer has only recently begun to take orders for the pink and blue J. Crew coats that Sasha and Malia Obama wore to the inauguration four months ago. As for the silken white bow tie that the President wore that night, J. Crew won't put that up for sale until September.