Firstly, I don't disagree that Joe Fresh is a so-called "bargain" brand (although I would rather the words "cheap chic" or "affordable"). Joe Fresh regularly has clothing discounted to around $10, and being associated with Loblaws/Superstore, it obviously isn't trying to be a luxury brand. People are certainly not wrong in considering Joe Fresh a "bargain" brand, since that is a matter of consumer perception, but I would argue there is a distinction between "bargain brand" and "just plain cheap".
While Joe Fresh does have cheaper clothing and does position itself beside cereal isles, its clothing is hardly of low quality. Comparatively to other bargain brands, Joe Fresh is actually quite impressive (have you seen the atrocities otherwise known as Walmart's George, Hudson's Bay's Jessica Simpson, and Forever 21?). In fact, every season, there are a handful of standout pieces that do cost between $50 to $100+, and are made from fine materials, such as silk, wool and sequins. I own several Joe Fresh pieces, and I can assure you the quality is better than H&M, and quite possibly even Topshop. Joe Fresh's designs are always on trend, and like any true fashion label, it has a distinctive brand image - preppy, chic, minimalist, wearable - almost like The Gap's younger, slightly more polished sister.
To move on to a more basic argument: Joe Fresh is a regular at Toronto Fashion Week. True, having a runway show doesn't necessarily give you fashion cred, but it does say that enough people believe in the quality of your brand to warrant a show.
Finally, Joe Fresh is designed by Joe Mimran, previous head of Club Monaco. Club Monaco is clearly a quality (and heartbreakingly expensive) brand, and Mimran's core design aesthetic is not lost in the Joe Fresh label. In addition, Mimran's wife is Kimberley Newport-Mimran, designer of Pink Tartan, one of Canada's top luxury labels. I mean, Pink Tartan and Club Monaco...Joe Fresh can't possibly be a mere "bargain" brand.
Joe Mimran is a respected designer, and Joe Fresh is a respected label. "The Joes" revolutionized the way we shop by introducing the idea of being able to buy a quality pencil skirt in the same place you buy your weekly can of beans. This was an interesting look at Joe Fresh's either successful or unsuccessful shaping of consumer perception, but all in all, I don't think it was bold of Joe Fresh to open shop in Manhattan. Joe Fresh was meant to eventually stake ground on Fifth Avenue. If you ask me, it belongs on Fifth Avenue.
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