WeWork moves into retail with new partnership with J.Crew

Continuing to build upon its growth in 2017, co-working venue company WeWork is turning to retail to ride that momentum.

Starting today, WeWork is joining forces with J.Crew to host a panel discussion series at select WeWork locations in New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Philadelphia. As part of the partnership, these venues will also sell merchandise from J.Crew’s spring collection at pop-up shops that offer discounts to WeWork members. The stores include a philanthropic element, in which a portion of proceeds will support local charities in each respective city.

The collaboration also allows the struggling J.Crew brand to increase visibility, as well as build upon past marketing efforts that feature non-models for campaigns and presentations. As part of the partnership, J.Crew developed editorial content for its blog that features WeWork members wearing styles from the spring collection and sharing career advice. The site includes a diverse array of individuals hailing from several innovative and progressive organizations such as Women’s Funding Network, Mother In Law’s Kimchi and the Black Owned Market.

WeWork is reportedly valued at $20 billion and growing rapidly: Last year it opened 90 new locations around the world and doubled its membership. Jennifer Skyler, chief communications officer for WeWork, said the events are intended to serve as a way to convene WeWork members on shared topics of interest, noting this is the company’s first major fashion partner. She said the partnership was forged in part due to shared company missions around diversity, authenticity and empowerment, which WeWork felt translated to speaking engagements of this format.

“These events will bring together inspiring professionals and unique voices to talk about what success and the power of community means to them,” Skyler said. “This is our first collaboration where we have partnered with a fashion company in this way to celebrate our members. Each of our global locations also hosts a variety of events every week surrounding different topics for our community.”

For J.Crew, it sheds light on an evolving strategy under recently appointed CEO Jim Brett, who took over following the departure of Mickey Drexler in June 2017. The company has already made efforts to diversify stale product offerings that contributed to slumping sales, including expanding into plus-sizes for both J.Crew and sister brand Madewell at the end of January. (A J.Crew representative was not available to speak about the WeWork partnership for this story.)

For the first series, which Skyler said will remain exclusive to the four selected cities for now, panelists will cover subjects like professional success and personal fulfillment. Integrating the J.Crew pop-up builds upon previous efforts within WeWork locations to sell products made by members, she said, including a marketplace it developed around its global Creator Awards contest.

“We believe in supporting our members by giving them the opportunity to showcase their businesses and hold pop-ups and markets within our spaces,” she said.

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