J. Crew’s Five-Figure Bag and Big Ambitions

While J. Crew’s recent ascendency has been absolutely astounding, equally astonishing is the way the label’s price tags have gone (way) up right along with its style quotient. Turtlenecks for $395 and $260 ballet flats are one thing, but some of the mall-brand’s offerings places its prices in the realm of Barneys and Bergdorf. And now critics can’t stop buzzing about J. Crew’s latest stab at the luxe market: the $1,500 Edie purse in alligator.

Though the limited-edition bag — just nine were created — is only available at the brand’s Madison Avenue boutique, it has made waves across the Internet ever since it was featured as “Jenna’s (Over-the-Top) Pick” on J. Crew’s Tumbler.

While exotic skin bags regularly fetch much higher prices, it’s easy to see why the Edie has critics so eager to comment — this is a mass-market brand known best for its catalog basics making a grab for the luxury consumer during a still-shaky economy, all with creative director Jenna Lyons as its friendly aspirational target. The Edie is hardly J. Crew’s first attempt to crack the high-end market; the brand began showing at New York Fashion Week with Spring 2012 and even proposed a collaboration with Manolo Balanik (though they forgot to tell him about it).

Forget selling out, J. Crew is trying to sell up — and people have noticed.

—Heather Corcoran