"Thanks!" to so many of you, including SA, Shannon, Monica, as well as wellfedfred (in this post), Tom (in this post), ajc (in this post), & Frudoc (in this post), who shared the following article from the New Yorker (click here to read in its entirety).
The Merchant. It’s all about the eye—and the numbers.Although some of the points made were repeats of previous interviews (like from the June 12th "WSJ Declares Drexler as "The Retail Therapist"" post), it is still an interesting read.
By Nick Paumgarten
September 20, 2010
PROFILE of J. Crew chairman Millard (“Mickey”) Drexler. “Can I have your attention, please?” A dozen or so times a day at J. Crew headquarters in Manhattan, a voice comes over the intercom with a low-fidelity reverb that brings to mind a muezzin’s call to prayer. The voice belongs to Millard Drexler, the chairman and C.E.O. of J.Crew, who is known to everyone as Mickey.
Wherever Drexler is, he can disseminate his voice via cell phone; an assistant patches him in. In the nineties, Drexler, who is now sixty-six, became known as Merchant Prince, for his transformation of the Gap from a shaggy little jeans chain to a gigantic but fairly nimble purveyor of the stuff everyone wears. He helped transform the way Americans dress. In 2002, however, amid a decline in the Gap’s fortunes, Drexler was fired. He wound up, less than a year later, at the helm of J.Crew, a much smaller company. Its subsequent revival, as a business and a brand, has given him some measure of vindication and extra eminence, as well as wealth of another magnitude.
Drexler grew up in the Bronx and he attended Boston University business school, then worked at Abraham & Straus and Bloomingdale’s. Describes his relationship with his father. J.Crew’s investment meetings, known as “finalization,” for the 2010 holiday line took place over two days in May. Drexler peppers the merchants with questions, in a kind of commercial catechism designed both to refine the decisions being made and to instruct his charges in the rigors of merchandising.
J.Crew was founded as a mail-order business in 1983 by Arthur Cinader. In the late nineties, the company foundered, and Cinader sold a majority stake to the Texas Pacific Group, which went through several C.E.O.s before hiring Drexler, who has gradually tried to elevate the brand. Mentions Donald Fisher, the Gap’s founder.
Drexler has a unique blend of supreme self-confidence, which enables him to acknowledge flaws or fears, and deep insecurity, which causes him to obsess over them. Describes the men’s finalization meeting. Drexler is gregarious but not highly social. He believes that a lot of people have piled up disgusting sums of money for producing or building nothing—for merely investing. In the stock market’s heady days, his own net worth exceeded a billion dollars.
Recently, J.Crew has been complementing its wares with selections from other, more time-tested names, such as Timex, Red Wing, Ray-Ban, and Belstaff. The goal is for J.Crew to festoon its own brand, assert a kind of kindred spirit, and accentuate its claim to classic Americana. Mentions Minnetonka and Quoddy. Drexler sweeps into J.Crew stores with regularity. Describes his visit to a store on Grand Avenue, in St. Paul, Minnesota, in May. ...
What are your thoughts on the article? Do you like Mickey Drexler more or less after reading this article? Any points you found particularly interesting or note-worthy? If so, please share! :)