Earlier this year, there were reports that J.Crew was planning to lower prices -- only to be quashed (how sad!) by the retailer's in-house PR. Well now it seems that more affordable J.Crew may soon be a reality: According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is planning to open a new, more budget-conscious chain called J.Crew Mercantile.

J.Crew has indeed registered the trademark J.Crew Mercantile, a filing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office reveals. The filing was made in November of last year to cover such goods and services as bags, wallets, umbrellas, footwear, jewelry and apparel. A rep for J.Crew would not confirm whether the name is being used for a new chain, but sources tell WSJ that the retailer is developing a new store format under the name which will sell merchandise in line with what you might find at J.Crew Factory, at a comparable price point. This, however, would not have the same "outlet" association -- it would be its own brand with its own full-price merchandise and discounts.

While fashion people fall more in love with J.Crew each season for its Jenna Lyons-fueled, high-end, fashion-forward items and its fancy collaborations with the likes of Sophia Webster, the retailer's elevated aesthetic and prices haven't completely caught on with its more budget-conscious customers.

The WSJ points out that the move is similar to Mickey Drexler's decision to open Old Navy during his tenure at Gap -- designed to sell lower-priced versions of Gap's easy basics. The risk for J.Crew, as it was for Gap, is cannibalizing its own business.

It's also worth noting that there have been many reports that J.Crew plans to stage an IPO soon. Perhaps that's why the company is looking to diversify across multiple price categories.

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