I was scrolling through fashion at popular department stores to get inspiration for my fall to winter closet as well as future Wardrobe Oxygen style advice posts. I have been impressed with Macy's this fall and headed over there and it seemed like every piece that caught my eye was from the brand On 34th. You know me, I had to investigate the brand On 34th and wanted to share what I learned about this Macy's private label, the good aspects, the not so good, and IMO the best styles this season.
Tell Me About On 34th at Macy's
Prior to the pandemic, Macy's realized it needed to figure out a strategy to revitalize its reputation. Inspired by another big box retailer who has won year after year with fashion, Macy’s hired Target Design Director Emily Erusha-Hilleque, who led many private labels and designer collaborations over her 21 years with the company. Macy's also contracted a brand agency founded by a previous Target exec. (Source – Retail Dive)
In August of 2023, Macy's released its newest in-house fashion brand, On 34th, hoping it will create brand loyalty with its style, accessible pricepoint, and size range. Remember the film, “Miracle on 34th Street?” The name is inspired by the flagship Macy's department store starring in that film and still standing tall in Herald Square in Manhattan. Prices for On 34th range from $18.50 to $300, and sizing ranges from XXS to 4X and 0 to 26W. Shoes will be added to the On 34th collection come Spring 2024.
Over the past two years, Macy’s conducted customer research, with over 100,000 online surveys, 35 days of digital community engagement, and hundreds of hours of in-store fit research and shop-alongs. This is in hopes that On 34th and the other Macy's private brands will provide better fit, style, and value to the customer.
Erusha-Hilleque, in a statement about the brand, shared, “On 34th was created with inspirational and modern design, informed by the voice of the customer, and built for real life. This new brand is designed by women for women who run their world, with confidence and joy. The launch of On 34th is an important milestone in Macy’s journey to elevate and reimagine our private brand portfolio which is designed with intention and executed with attention. We are developing unique and relevant product design that is distinctively aligned to brand DNA and infused with multiple points of inspiration, data, and the intuition of a talented team. All in service of fostering brand love for Macy’s.” (Source – Macy's press release)
What is the Macy's On 34th Aesthetic?
So you can read all the articles and press releases online about On 34th and you will think it's a bunch of gobbledygook about real women and real style (which actually sounds a lot like Wardrobe Oxygen so maybe I shouldn't call it gobbledygook). But as someone who looks at apparel brands regularly, here's my thought comparing to well-known brands.
My first thought was this looks like what I wish J. Crew Factory was. The pricepoint is below J. Crew and the pieces aren't as elevated/sophisticated as current J. Crew but On 34th has that color, quirkiness, and fun mix of staples with statement J. Crew is known for. Sort of like J. Crew of the 2000s with 2023 trends. Add to it a bit of pre-pandemic Boden with feminine dresses and statement coats, but more like a Boden Factory version. You'll also find pieces that look similar to items currently available at Madewell and Universal Standard, though in different materials and colors.
lime turtleneck & pink cords | trench & wide-leg sweatpants | sheath dress (link to misses) & poplin shirt | Breton striped top (link to misses) & wide-leg jeans (link to misses)
tipped jacquard cardigan & ankle jeans | pink crewneck sweater (link to misses) & sequin midi skirt (link to misses) | trench & ponte leggings (link to plus) | lime crewneck sweater (link to misses) & wide-leg jeans (link to misses)
You can see the Target vibe all over Macy's On 34th private label. Fun colors, classic prints, pieces designed to look good on a size 2 and a size 22, pieces that can be wardrobe staples but wouldn't be considered boring or basic. If I am comparing On 34th to “Factory” versions of J. Crew and Boden, I'd also compare the brand to an elevated/designer collab version of Target.
For years, Macy's has been a retailer that filled the space between Target and brands like J. Crew, Boden, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor. It's just that as fast fashion hit the scene, malls began to die, and work fashion became less stuffy, Macy's didn't keep up with the times. They kept throwing spaghetti at the wall with cheap Juniors labels, higher-end brands found at Nordstrom and Dillard's, celeb collabs that felt just off, and trying to reinvent the classics in budget-friendly ways. On 34th actually feels like what Macy's has tried to be, but pulling it off.
Problems with Macy's On 34th Private Label
In 2023, I have no idea why a brand will have separate links for the same garment in misses and then plus sizes. At least do what Ann Taylor and Lands' End do and have a button to go directly to the other page with additional sizes. Any brand that says they are inclusive and separate sizes in such a manner is just “inclusive-washing.”
This is extra frustrating considering the average woman in the United States hovers between misses and plus sizes. Any of us who are midsize know that sometimes we're a 12, sometimes we're a 16, and sometimes we're an XL, but depending on the style we may fit better in a 0X or 1X. To not have it easy to look at size charts and reviews to determine which size we are is poor website design. To be fair, select pieces like this button-front shirt has all the sizes on one page.
I am also disappointed to see that plus sizes don't always have the same fun color range as misses. For example, this misses sweater blazer comes in 6 colors, but in plus it only comes in black and cream.
Reviews make me concerned that fit is inconsistent. For example, with these wide-leg jeans that were really appealing to me, some reviews say they run big, others say they run small. In general the reviews for these jeans are positive, but that discrepancy about fit makes me cautious.
Positive Features for Macy's On 34th Fashion Line
Another thing that grinds my gears about “inclusive” fashion brands that offer misses and plus sizes is that they often charge more for the plus sizes. I understand that it costs more to have a separate plus size fit model and patterns, but I think it's fairer to just increase the price in general than charge a “fat tax” for plus sizes. We don't see petites costing more, and they too require the same additional steps as plus size garments.
Macy's On 34th collection is the same price, whether it is misses or plus size. I really appreciate this and hope this is the beginning of a trend amongst fashion brands.
orange-red tank & jeans | polka dot trench coat (link to misses) | leopard blouse & wide-leg pants | striped rugby shirt & wide-leg jeans (link to plus)
red dress | plaid car coat, green t-shirt (link to misses), & wide-leg jeans (link to misses) | orange sweater & leopard slip skirt | Breton striped top (link to misses) & navy wide-leg pants
I really love seeing an entire model in multiple poses. So many retailers show a body with the head cut off, the pose wooden, rarely seeing the back or side view. The models for On 34th are overly animated, but I appreciate it because we can see the pieces on a moving body from a range of angles.
Also, On 34th plus-size pieces are modeled on plus-size bodies. It's frustrating when a label carries plus sizes but only shows the pieces on a Misses-size model. Those models may be on the smaller side of plus, but it's better than having a size 24 person try to guess what a dress will look like based on it being worn by a size 2 model.
On 34th is budget-friendly. While the press releases say the label carries pieces up to $300, there aren't any even close to that pricepoint currently on the site. Most items are under $100, and even pieces like a genuine suede moto jacket are reasonably priced at $275 (and currently on sale for $165).
What I Like from Macy's On 34th Collection
How can I discuss a fashion brand without sharing my picks? On 34th has some real winners, and some pieces that look very generic or meh. They may be right for some, but they didn't catch my eye. So let's focus on what I think to be the best picks from this new Macy's private label:
- This sequin midi skirt. I saw an influencer wear this on Instagram, and while this doesn't look like it costs $500, it doesn't look like junk. And it's the perfect piece to glam up a sweater and boots already in your closet for holiday dressing. And because of the color, style, and that it's sequins, you can wear it year round. It would also be cute with a cami or fitted tank, a graphic t-shirt and a moto jacket, or a short-sleeved cashmere tee and sneakers.
- This cardigan. I discussed the popularity of this style of cardigan for 2023, and this is a wallet-friendly option that is actually of the same textiles as similar sweaters twice this price offered from other brands. A plus is this one is machine washable.
- This button-front shirt. I love a pink button-front shirt and this color of pink is delicious. I like the longer tunic length, it gives room for creativity. Wear as a swim coverup, like a jacket, tie at the waist, pair with leggings, have the shirttails hang out under a sweater or vest. For some, you may be able to wear it like a dress!
- These wide-leg pants. Available in regular and short lengths up to size 16, these get rave reviews for looking more expensive than their pricepoint.
- This modal turtleneck. I love a slim-fitting lightweight turtleneck to be a base layer under sweaters or to give a bodysuit effect under blazers. This one looks like a perfect choice and gets good reviews when purchased as a base layer or fitted style.
- These plus size jeans. I'm all about a brand that carries shorts, talls, petites, and longs in plus sizes. These high-waisted straight leg jeans come in regular and short lengths! FYI, these jeans also come in Misses in regular and short lengths.
- This card case wallet. Especially the colorful one, it would be a great addition to a gift card. The holidays are coming, it makes sense to start thinking about gifts like this now, especially at this great price!
Have you tried Macy's newest private label, On 34th? If so, do share your thoughts in the comments to assist us all in being more informed consumers!