The Madewell brand is about “real, honest” women’s clothes, according to their own statements. It’s clothing for 20- and 30-somethings who want simple and elegant casual and semi-formal clothes that look great, feel great and have a certain timeless, classic style. This is everyday fashion for women. Madewell creates jeans, tops, dresses, blouses, pants, accessories, jewelry, purses, hair accessories and pretty much everything you can wear, but this company specializes in denim.
There are brands similar to Madewell out there if you like the look of these clothes and want to expand your wardrobe with like items. Learn how to find the fashion you want and discover the brands that embody everything you like about Madewell.
The Controversial History
Madewell has an amazing story attached to it. The business was created in 1937 by a Jewish immigrant who fled Russia, Julius Kivowitz, who opened a factory and started making clothes. His goal was to make nice-looking clothing that was made well. They specialized in everyday clothing, items like jeans, dungarees and overalls, items that could be worn to work.
Eventually, the company closed its doors. In 2004, the brand and its entire backstory were purchased in full by the J. Crew company, a brand that is known for its wide range of everyday, casual clothing. The Madewell name and J. Crew are a natural fit. However, descendants of Kivowitz have expressed public outrage at J. Crew for proudly plastering on its marketing that the Madewell brand has been in business since 1937.
The Madewell business was not sold by its founder. Many years after the business closed, J. Crew purchased the trademark and the logo of the business. The company chose to claim the backstory of the Madewell brand as well, a decision that was criticized at length in a blistering editorial from one Kivowitz descendant.
In the modern era, Madewell is a brand owned by J. Crew and is not associated with the former Madewell brand.
Finding Brands Similar to Madewell
Madewell clothing is casual to semi-formal and it’s made for everyday style. This is go-anywhere clothing that looks and feels good that’s perfect for running errands, enjoying a night out with friends, having a business meeting or going on a date. There are several brands that offer similar styles and pricing to Madewell clothing.
Use brands similar to Madewell to expand your wardrobe and fill your closet with lots of new fashions in the casual, modern style you like.
Abercrombie & Fitch (Similar Pricing)
Like Madewell, Abercrombie & Fitch creates clothing that is timelessly stylish and elegantly simple. This is casual, everyday clothing that’s classic and that’s exactly what the Madewell brand offers, too.
The story of Abercrombie & Fitch is a classic American story, though in a different way than Madewell’s origins. David T. Abercrombie founded Abercrombie Co. in New York City in 1892 and sold hunting gear. A lawyer named Ezra Fitch purchased a huge share of the company in 1904 ad became the company’s co-founder.
Re-branded as Abercrombie & Fitch, the small retail shop became a huge, 12-story department store. Now, it offered a huge range of clothing for all genders and even started a mail-order catalog to give more people access to the fashions sold here. The business expanded far beyond its humble beginnings.
At one point, everyone who was anyone wore Abercrombie & Fitch. Ernest Hemingway, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh and John F. Kennedy were all known patrons of the brand, among others. Despite this, the brand quickly fell out of fashion, pun intended, in the 1960s. By 1977, Abercrombie & Fitch filed for bankruptcy.
The brand was purchased by another retailer and revived to rise to fame as a fashion brand once again. The brand rebuilt itself with a sexy ad campaign featuring scantily-clad young people in provocative poses and different states of undress. The brand shed its classy image from the past and targeted a young demographic that was interested in trendy, sexy clothing.
And then…the brand’s star fell again. It plummeted, actually, with sales sinking in the 2010s after huge success in the 1990s and 2000s. Fashion has a way of going up and up and up….and then down. Many of the biggest names in style have watched this happen, but a lucky few manage to survive the downturns to rise again. This is what happened to Abercrombie & Fitch.
Abercrombie & Fitch returned to the retail fashion game in 2015 with a lot less branding and a brand-new look. Now, A&F is much more like the classic, casual, elegant styles offered by Madewell and it’s looking to dress a more professional, grown-up demographic, rather than providing sexy styles for the teens.
Abercrombie & Fitch may end up reinventing itself again. But today, the fashions and pricing here are comparable to Madewell. You can find similar styles and pay about the same price for the items you purchase here. Fans of the Madewell brand will like the new look at A&F.
American Eagle (Less Expensive)
American Eagle sells young, trendy fashion to young, trendy buyers. This brand offers everything from jeans to shirts to activewear. All the casual clothes you want to wear are here. Like Madewell, American Eagle offers everyday fashion. However, these clothes are made to appeal to younger fashion lovers so clothing here follows the current trends, rather than sticking to more classic styling like Madewell.
American Eagle is less expensive than Madewell, with clothing items priced at about half as much as similar items from Madewell. American Eagle is constantly introducing new looks to their product line and frequent sales make the clothing here even more affordable.
The brand was founded in 1977, selling everyday fashion and accessories with a focus on outdoor clothing. In the 1990s, American Eagle was on its last legs. Sales were sinking and it looked like the last days for the brand. New leadership was hired and the brand was revamped in 1992 with a new focus on selling casual, stylish clothing. The changes worked and American Eagle has risen out of the ashes of the past to become a huge name in fashion.
Now, American Eagle is a popular casual brand among fashionable people who like staying up-to-date with the trendiest looks. Those who like Madewell clothing because it offers casual everyday wear but want a brand that’s a little trendier and more affordable will find American Eagle to be a perfect alternative.
Banana Republic (More Expensive)
Banana Republic specializes in classic style, much like Madewell. These clothes are fashionable and trendy but they are definitely timeless, a quality that Banana Republic shares with Madewell. However, the Banana Republic brand is more sophisticated and it’s geared toward a more fashionable, professional, put-together style. This is casual professional, casual semi-formal and casual stylish fashion.
Banana Republic was founded in 1978 and became so successful so quickly, it was purchased by Gap five years later in 1983. Gap grew the band to global success and now, Banana Republic is a well-known name in the style game. Banana Republic focused on casual clothing and grew to take on a more sophisticated look over the years under the Gap banner.
Like Madewell, Banana Republic targets a younger buying audience of 20- and 30-somethings who want to look good. Clothes from this brand are more expensive, on average, than clothing from Madewell. Banana Republic clothing is made with high-quality materials. Organic cotton, linen and imported fabrics are used for many of the items here. Banana Republic also offers clothing in a huge range of sizes and colors, which takes a lot of production cost. These factors make the prices higher for consumers.
The clothing from Banana Republic is also well-made and designed to be durable, principles the Madewell brand was founded upon. Those who want durable clothing that is a little more posh than Madewell but still suitable for everyday wear, albeit with a lot of style, will enjoy Banana Republic fashion.
Everlane (Similar Pricing)
Like Madewell, Everlane focuses on creating casual, everyday clothing for women. The catalog includes a huge selection of professional clothing, activewear, swimwear and accessories. You can find clothing here for all seasons and all kinds of looks, something the brand has in common with Madewell. Both companies offer a huge selection of fashion of all kinds and sell everything you can wear, right down to bags you carry to match your outfits.
Everlane first appeared on the fashion scene in 2011 selling T-shirts. In a decade, the brand had branched out to include just about every type of garment imaginable. That’s pretty impressive growth and so far, Everlane isn’t slowing down. Those who like casually elegant style continue to flock to the brand.
Everlane has similar pricing to Madewell and appeals to the same demographic, women who want to feel good and look good in their 20s and 30s. You can find very similar fashions and pricing here. If you like Madewell, you will almost certainly like what Everlane has to offer, too.
The Gap (Less Expensive)
The Gap didn’t begin as a fashion brand. It began as a fashion store that wanted to provide a good selection of clothing to make it easier for people to find stylish clothing that would fit them. The first Gap was opened in 1969 in San Francisco selling Levi’s jeans. A year later, business was so good a second Gap was opened. It turned out that people really did want fashionable clothing that fits well.
Within five years, more than 25 new Gap stores had opened. It was safe to say, at that point, that the business model was working: offer a big selection of the clothing that people want to buy. Gap has pretty much maintained this commitment ever since. By 1974, Gap stores sold a ton of different items of all kinds and Gap-label clothing began to appear on the racks. Gap was no longer just a bunch of stores. It was a fashion brand.
Gap has changed with the times and stayed up-to-date on the latest fashions while sticking to the original plan: give people the clothes they want to wear in a wide selection of options. Gap is an international brand that is well-known and well-loved around the world. The world’s hottest celebrities and richest people have worn Gap, along with plenty of people who aren’t quite rich and famous.
Gap specializes in everyday fashion and offers classic items along with the latest trends. You can always find new stuff at Gap, which offers everyday clothing at prices that are somewhat less expensive than Madewell.
Like Madewell, Gap offers casual looks in stylish designs. Gap also offers everything you can wear, from accessories to every possible item of clothing you might want. However, Gap has a much bigger variety than Madewell and makes clothing for people of all ages. Along with the traditional Gap brand that makes clothes for everyone who likes trendy fashion, Gap has separate clothing lines for babies, teens and toddlers.
When variety is your thing and you like highly affordable pricing, along with good brand recognition, Gap is just where you ought to shop.
H&M (Less Expensive)
Trendy, fashionable style for teens and 20-sometimes is what you’ll find at H&M. Like Madewell, H&M has a huge variety of all types of clothing and offers everyday casual wear that’s meant to go anywhere. H&M focuses on trendy styles and constantly updates its stores with the latest looks, rather than offering up more classic and timeless looks like Madewell.
Both Madewell and H&M have a product line that provides everything in fashion, including accessories. H&M also sells home goods and maintains a more department store-like atmosphere than any other brands on this list. It’s the affordable fashion that tends to set H&M apart, however. Though the clothing is highly fashionable and coveted by younger buyers, which means it’s definitely hot in the style game, H&M clothing is very reasonably priced.
H&M uses specific production methods in order to keep its prices so affordable. H&M outsources its manufacturing and focuses on “fast fashion,” creating clothing quickly so that it can be sold quickly. By selling clothes in great quantity, H&M is able to make enough profit to keep its fashions affordable.
H&M, which means Hennes & Mauritz, was founded in Sweden in 1947. Founder Erling Persson was inspired to open a store after a 1946 visit to the U.S. During a road trip around the country, Persson was inspired by the clothing being displayed in shop windows. From this, H&M was born. The brand has expanded all over the world since then, becoming highly recognizable and extremely popular among shoppers.
If you want affordable, trendy fashion that reflects the latest style in young, hip looks at highly affordable prices, H&M is a great addition to your favorite Madewell-like brands.
J. Crew (Similar Pricing)
Like Madewell, J. Crew offers simple, elegant fashion that can range from casual to professional to semi-casual. These clothes are classically fashionable and have very little branding, much like Madewell. The pricing between the two brands is also similar, so you can buy items across each for about the same amount of money.
J. Crew offers a big selection of clothing in a huge range of colors. Like Madewell, these brands offer clothes and accessories of all types, including outerwear. J. Crew appeals to 20-, 30- and 40-somethings who want to look stylish and fashionable but without being enslaved to every passing fashion fad. If you’d like to keep wearing your clothes for a couple of years at least, J. Crew has got you well-covered with its timeless looks.
The brand began as a door-to-door business selling women’s fashion in 1947. In 1983, the company re-branded itself as a catalog-only retailer. It focused on preppy clothing and began to get noticed as an affordable way to look classically stylish. In 1989, a physical J. Crew store opened and the brand took off.
J. Crew’s preppy, fashionable product line is a lot like the clothing you find at Madewell and the prices are comparable. Add J. Crew to your shopping rotation if you’re looking to find more retailers like Madewell and add lots more fashion to your wardrobe.
Levi’s (Similar Pricing)
Everyone knows the name Levi, no matter how fashionable they are or are not. Levi Strauss & Co. is more than a fashion brand, it’s a fashion staple. Levi’s is so synonymous with jeans that jeans are actually referred to as Levi’s. That’s some pretty serious style clout.
The story of how Levi’s came to be is pretty well-known. Strauss, a retailer, partnered with Jacob Davis, a tailor, to create a pair of durable work pants with copper rivets made out of denim. Together, the two filed the patent for blue jeans in the 1870s and history was made.
Blue jeans took the world by storm and Levi Strauss & Co. expanded their product line to include overalls, jackets and ultimately, most things you can wear. Today, the Levi’s brand includes a huge selection of clothing, including outerwear and activewear, accessories and casual style of all kinds.
In general, Levi’s clothing is more casual than Madewell’s and reflects current style trends, though it has many classic fashion items as well. Levi’s specializes in denim, which is also true for Madewell. A huge chunk of Madewell’s sales come from blue jeans. If you like the jeans from Madewell and you want something similar from a well-known brand that offers similar pricing, Levi’s is a perfect go-to.
Nordstrom (Similar Pricing)
Nordstrom is one of the most well-known department stores and you can find a massive selection of fashions here. Every possible thing you might want to wear is available here, from a simple T-shirt to a stunning evening gown. All types of clothing, from activewear to office wear to formal wear, are sold at Nordstrom.
The brand prides itself on elegant and timeless fashion with very little branding in classic silhouettes and fashionable styles, just like Madewell. Nordstrom clothing has a look that is very similar to Madewell with similar pricing. Both brands are perfect when you want elegant, fashionable clothing that’s made for people in their 20s and 30s who want to look stylish.
Nordstrom started out in 1901 as a shoe store in Seattle. Over the decades, Nordstrom expanded and in a little more than half a century, it was a huge department store. Today, it’s still a huge name in fashion. If you like Madewell’s brand of classic styling and their pricing suits you but you wish they had a much, much bigger selection, Nordstrom is exactly where you want to shop. This is Madewell-like fashion at a similar price in much greater quantity and selection.
Old Navy (Less Expensive)
Old Navy is one of many brands under the Gap umbrella but this retailer has made a name for itself as a stand-alone player in the fashion game. Since the 1990s, Old Navy has been known as a place to buy casual, stylish fashion that’s made for people of any age. Old Navy prides itself on being affordable. There’s also a huge selection of styles and everything at Old Navy is fashionable and in sync with current trends, a lot like Madewell.
Old Navy has a great selection of denim, comfortable shirts, loungewear, activewear and anything else you might want to wear, too. The prices at Old Navy are less expensive than at Madewell, in general. You can shop for the same items with both brands and pay a little less at Old Navy, so this is a good alternative if you want Madewell-like fashions but you’re working with a limited budget.
Shopbop (More Expensive)
Like Madewell, Shopbop has everything. You can shop here for bags, accessories, jewelry and clothing of all kinds. Shopbop specializes in stylish, casual to semi-formal fashion, just like Madewell. They offer a huge selection of items, so you can always find something else to look at when you’re shopping Shopbop clothing.
Unlike Madewell, Shopbop specializes in high-end, designer items. The things you can buy here are significantly more expensive than what you’ll find at Madewell because Shopbop sells designer items. Some designer pieces are exclusive to Shopbop, a feature that always commands a higher price.
Though the prices can be a little staggering, Shopbop fashion is more accessible than ever since the brand was purchased by Amazon. Buyers can now find a massive selection of Shopbop items at Amazon, the leader in the online buying market.
Those who like the selection and stylish items at Madewell but want something more high-end with a designer name on it will find what they want at Shopbop. The clothing here is made to appeal to all fashionable people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
Theory (More Expensive)
Theory offers a huge range of different fashion options, from a great-looking suit to wear to the office to a sexy swimsuit to wear to the beach, along with every outfit in-between. The theory behind Theory is to provide modern, fashionable clothing that’s sexy but simple and high-end to give wearers a luxury look.
The first Theory store was launched in the late 1990s. Since then, Theory stores have expanded to hundreds of locations around the world. Theory offers very stylish clothing and accessories that look distinctly high-end. That’s why you will pay a high-end price at Theory, where clothes are more expensive, on average, than similar items you find at Madewell.
Theory uses expensive materials to make clothing. This includes fabrics like cashmere, one of the most expensive textiles in the world. The brand also prides itself on quality craftsmanship and expert tailoring in all their clothing, attention to detail that takes extra time. All this adds up to a higher price for buyers. However, the craftsmanship and materials do inherently imply that Shopbop sells a higher quality of items than many others.
If you like Madewell’s selection and you enjoy having access to the latest fashions but you’ve been looking for a more high-end brand, Theory should be just right for you.
Urban Outfitters (Similar Pricing)
You can pretty much buy it all at Urban Outfitters. This company is known for selling everything when it comes to fashion. You can even get stuff for the house here. Urban Outfitters is all about having a huge selection. That means most items are available in a huge variety of colors on top of the already massive selection of styles you can find here.
Urban Outfitters was founded in 1970 by two college roommates. They decided to start a store selling affordable clothes and items for dorm rooms. They started with $5,000 and opened a store near the University of Pennsylvania. Within a few years, more Urban Outfitters appeared near college campuses. In other words, the formula worked.
Today, Urban Outfitters is an international name in style, offering a huge selection of fashionable, affordable clothing for young, hip people. Like Madewell, Urban Outfitters appeals to people who want casual fashion. Urban Outfitters always has the latest trends and tends to appeal to a young, teen and 20-something buying audience, staying true to its original branding.
Wearing Brands Similar to Madewell
If you like Madewell’s take on classic, timeless fashion that’s casual but elegant and made to go anywhere, there are many brands similar to Madewell that will give you even more options. Expand your wardrobe and your list of go-to places to shop by exploring other brands that have a similar take on style to Madewell. When you know which brands to shop, you’ll always know where to go to get all the looks you want.
Shopping is fun but it’s even better when you know more about what you’re shopping for. Get the answer to the most frequently asked questions about Madewell and brands similar to Madewell and get the knowledge that will help you become a fashion expert.
How should Madewell jeans fit? How do you find the perfect fit for jeans?
Madewell specializes in jeans and offers up a lot of different denim fashions. But if there’s one thing everyone knows about jeans, it’s this: if they don’t fit right, they’re going to look bad. So how should Madewell jeans fit and how can you get the perfect fit for jeans?
Jeans are supposed to fit close to the body, molding to your curves and flattering your natural shape. Jeans should cup your backside and hips and may fit loose or close through the legs, depending on the style of jeans you chose. The waist should fit smoothly and uniformly around your body without bunching, gapping or pinching your skin at all. The trouble is, finding that perfect fitting pair of jeans is more difficult than it ought to be.
Shopping for clothes is weird. You might wear a size 12 jeans in one brand and in another, a size 10 or a size 16. Sizing doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. So if you go shopping online and you try to buy items in your size, you might find out the clothing brand and you have very, very different ideas about what your size actually is.
There’s a simple trick to getting great-fitting jeans every single time: take your measurements. You should measure your body and not your clothes and use this number to find your size, rather than relying on the sizes in your closet. Compare your own measurements to company size charts and you’re going to get the right size every single time, whether you’re shopping with Madewell or any brands similar to Madewell that also offer jeans.
Take a waist measurement first. To get the right waist measurement, go completely around your body in a perfectly straight line, all the way around, with no gapping or bunching. Don’t pull tightly. The tape measure shouldn’t dig into your skin, nor should it be sagging. Measure around your natural waist. This is the thinnest part of your waist and will generally be near your belly button. Write down the measurement in both inches and centimeters.
To get a hip measurement, you need to go straight around your body again without letting the tape measure pinch, sag or bunch. Take the measurement around the widest part of your hips.
Compare these measurements against manufacturer size charts and you will end up getting jeans that fit your body well and cup your curves the way they’re meant to.
Who owns Madewell?
Madewell was started by an ambitious entrepreneur in the 1930s and grew to success before it ceased to exist in the late 20th century. Later, the Madewell brand and logo were purchased by the J. Crew company, which has been a well-known name in fashion for decades. The new Madewell brand under J. Crew has no association with the original Madewell clothing business. Today, the brand is fully owned by J. Crew.
Where is Madewell clothing manufactured?
About 85 percent of Madewell clothing and other items are made outside of the U.S. More than half of these factories are in Hong Kong and China.
Is Madewell a luxury brand?
Madewell clothing is well made and stylish but it is not considered to be a luxury brand. Madewell clothing and jewelry are not made with the most high-end materials and Madewell is not exclusive or limited in any way.
Madewell is about being accessible and providing affordable fashion, something that luxury brands do not offer. Luxury brands maintain their luxury status by limiting releases to maintain exclusivity and used high-end materials in their products. Madewell provides fashion for everyone to buy and enjoy, a model that works for many brands similar to Madewell, too.
The Adult Man – Banana Republic Review: Does the Classic Still Hold Up in 2022?
Bizfluent – History of Old Navy Retail
Business Insider – The rise and fall — and rise again — of Abercrombie & Fitch
Buzzfeed – Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Combo Reviews – Shopbop Review
Companies History – H&M
Fashion ABC – H&M
Impactful Ninja – How Ethical Is Madewell? All You Need to Know
The List – The Real Reason H&M Is So Cheap
LMents of Style – How to Shop for Jeans + How Madewell Jeans Fit
The New York Times – Madewell Diverges From J. Crew as a Darling of Casual America
The New Yorker – How Everlane Hacked Your Wardrobe
Reference for Business – Urban Outfitters, Inc.
Seattle Met – How the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Made Retail History