Sunday, July 27, 2008

Charlie Rose's Conversation With Mickey Drexler

Sally mentioned (in the "Holiday Season Will Be Tough on Retailers" post) an episode of Charlie Rose (click here) where Mickey Drexler was the featured guest. This episode really is a fascinating look inside the retailing world.

I first watched the video (in the "Weekend Video | Millard “Mickey” Drexler" post) at the A Continuous Lean Blog (a smart site on "men's style, fashion, design, media and technology"), who summarized the episode very well by saying: There are a lot of great things to be learned from Mr. Drexler in this interview — specifically about hiring talented people, treating those around you with respect, returning every phone call and acting like a small company in the “anti-customer service era”...I specifically identified with one of the things Mr. Drexler said in the interview: “I have a uniform, I wear what is comfortable, not what is fashiony.”

The interview is 31 minutes long, perfect to watch this lazy Sunday afternoon.

The following are some interesting articles on Mickey Drexler & J.Crew worth checking out:
  1. "A C.E.O. Sells the Store" by Joe Nocera
    Published March 1, 2008 | NY Times
  2. "A Whole New Crew" by Barbara Kiviat
    Published March 15, 2007 | Time
  3. "Mickey Drexler’s Redemption" by Meryl Gordon
    Published November 22, 2004 | NY Magazine
What do you think of the interview? Do you agree/disagree with Mickey Drexler's insights/advice/comments? Do you like Mickey Drexler more or less, now that you have seen this interview?


  1. It was interesting to see his remark about jeans-how JCrew does not have a huge emphasis on jeans. I think that is very true and smart of JCrew, because the denim market changes so frequently with trends that it is hard to keep up. I am very happy to always know that JCrew is going to have a pair of classic jeans that I can go to, no matter what the "fashion world" is doing.

  2. Laverte: I agree with you that the denim market changes frequently (in terms of style and fabric) which can make it hard to keep up (unless your devoted to denim like Levi). I also think it is great that J.Crew will continue to offer classic jeans- it makes the pairs they offer an investment. ;)

  3. I really enjoyed watching this...I liked hearing Mickey's views on what he looks for in a potential employee, and also what he thinks about store sales and sale shoppers. The remark about the denim was interesting, too...I'm not a big "jeans" person, as I would much rather wear a pair of chinos or a skirt anyday, and I am happy that J.Crew doesn't "overdo" their denim line, but seems to have just the right balance. :)

  4. FabulousFloridaMommy: I agree it is an enjoyable video. I liked hearing what he looked for in employees, and what he thought of shoppers as well.

    Overall, I am a big fan of Mickey Drexler. I think he has done a great job at J.Crew.

    I also liked the part when Charlie asked if anyone could call Mickey and get through and Mickey said yes. FabulousFloridaMommy, I really think you should totally call him. I think you would have great suggestions/insights for him. :)

  5. P.S. This video really is great. I never got that Madewell is actually pronounced as the two separate words "Made" and "well". I always pronounced it as a name. ;)

  6. This is off-topic, but has anyone bought any new fall pieces? I was in the Boston store this weekend, but didn't actually find anything I wanted to try on. There wasn't much of a shoe selection, either.

    I did, though, just purchase (online) the black knee-highs and pink spectator pumps (as shown on the model wearing the shift dress). I KNOW this might not work on me, but I just loved the look so much. Plus I'm thinking pink pumps -- though my initial reaction is to wrinkle my nose -- could really work well -- with jeans, with skirts, with all sorts of colors. Plus I like the thought of doing black tights with the pale pink shoes. Hopefully these items work out for me! But maybe it's wishful thinking -- we'll see.

    And I think I'm one of the few people who doesn't love the ecole jackets -- I don't like the cuffed sleeves; to me it renders the jacket much more casual than I'd like. In general, though, love the direction of the fall pieces. (As an aside, I wandered into a Gap, and boy, there may as well have been tumbleweed blowing through there -- it was kind of sad seeing how far Gap has fallen. It made me ask myself, "Why don't they get new designers?" then I thought, "Wait -- didn't they just hire Patrick Robinson? Isn't he supposed to be a major design force?")

    Long post -- and off-topic at that -- I apologize!!!

  7. alexis, I think this interview is so insightful as well. I must say though, I really doubt that ANYONE could call Mickey and get through. I mean right now noone is even able to get responses from the numerous e-mails that were sent during the upgrade fiasco. After all, isn't it in there job description "contact us". Maybe they mean "contact us but don't expect us to contact you."

    Don't get me wrong, I think Mickey is a retailing GENIUS. I just think some of is beliefs are idealistic and not the reality.

  8. I have been a fan of Mickey Drexler for many years. I find his philosophy fascinating and actually fantasized about meeting him on the street in NYC just so that I could tell him that he is doing a great job! Even though I spend nearly 20k a year on J Crew's clothing and accissories, I have always had the feeling that, should I need to speak with him, he would take my call no matter how much or how little I spend!! My fashion confidence has soared since I began wearing J Crew clothing. Thanks so much Mr. Drexler you are so appreciated!!

  9. Emily,
    Do you have a link to that pic of the shift dress with those shoes? I'd love to see it. I think it sounds tres chic - I love the idea of it. Last fall, J.Crew shoes colorful argyle socks with their satin pumps, and I totally would have gotten into it only J.Crew shoes just do not fit me well at all ... :-(

    I've ordered the green tweed skirt and a couple of sweaters from the fall collection, but haven't received it yet. I like the herringbone Fiona, only I got three herringbone Bellas just last fall, so I think I'll only go for the Fiona if I see it at a great sale price. I'd probably already have ordered the mohair Lucille if only it came in azalea or violet... :-)

  10. I loved listening to the interview. I hadn't heard much about Mickey Drexler and was actually on a lookout for something like this. Thanks, Alexis, for posting this.

  11. Emily: Congrats on the purchases! Let us know how you like the Mary jane spectator peep-toe heels. I could even make it into its own "product review" post. :)

    Sally: I also have my doubts if Mickey accepts phone calls from anyone, but I like the idea of it. ;)

    JCrewJunkie: You spend a lot with J.Crew, you should definitely get access to Mickey!!! ;)

    La Belle Helene: Its in the Fall Look Book online with the Sequin laura shift. Unfortunately I can't get the look book to show me the image alone so I can link to it properly.

  12. Olga: I agree its nice to hear more from and about Mickey Drexler. :) He seems really down to earth.

  13. I don't see that in the look book, but then there seems to be all sorts of problems with the look book - when I click on a page to get more info, all that shows up are other items not shown on that page...

    I'm glad we finally have some fall items to peruse & covet, but I'm still looking forward to the September catalogue. I hope J.Crew is still doing cool "on location" shoots in foreign cities, like with Paris & the highlands last year ... :-)

  14. La Belle Helene: I found a good link. It's the Look Book for the J.Crew Collection (which is a bit different than the Look Book they printed and I posted about- I don't know why there are 2 Look Books either, it seems weird to me.)

    JCrew Collection Look Book

    The shoes are on the model who is sitting on the chair, with black knee highs.

    I hope this helps. :)

  15. Hi Helene,

    You can view the dress/knee-highs/shoes here: The "details" list the black socks as knee-highs, but they look like they're probably the thigh-highs to me, so that's what I ordered. I'm not exactly sure what I'll wear them with -- will have to do some brainstorming. If only I took ballet, they could double as leg warmers :)

    I'm sorry JC's shoes don't fit you well -- I find that they're usually higher quality and fit me well (sometimes the flats are too small, however). Unlike, say, Banana Republic, whose shoes I find terribly uncomfortable. (I don't mean to be so negative about Gap, Inc. today!)

    I hope your tweed skirt works well, though -- I do like that one a lot, and it seems fairly timeless.

  16. I'm not sure that link came through -- it's

    It's basically just the image that's on the JCrew Collection (women's) homepage.

  17. Thanks for all the links - now I see the picture. I totally like the look, so I hope it works for you, Emily. Like I mentioned earlier, I thought it looked great when done last fall (with colorful socks & colorful pumps), and that was with a mini skirt. I was so tempted to try it, but as I'm sure others agree, walking around in shoes that hurt has a way of completely undermining a fashionable look :-)

  18. Has anyone else noticed that this guy has his watch on the outside of his shirt sleeve? For some reason that looks odd. Really odd.

  19. Anonymous at 5:00 PM: I know! It looks odd to me too. (FabulousFloridaMommy also pointed that "look" out in another post too.) Even Charlie Rose made a comment about it during the interview. :)

    To be honest, I am not sure what to think of that look. Maybe that is the newest way to wear watches. ;) I can't question the look too much because I totally remember in 1990 rocking the double Swatch-watch look!

  20. I like the Mickey Drexler I saw in the interview. I bet he is very different at work. He sounded very idealistic in his approach, but I bet he's a boss his employees fear. I would like to hear him comment on his recent online upgrade.... not a chance that would happen. BTW, long before I saw this interview, and the online mess, I did email him regarding the supposed "perks" of a J Crew credit card. He NEVER replied to me, big surprise.

  21. Kirbydog: I agree with you that his employees must feel a bit intimidated by him.

    I think it is great that you went ahead and emailed Mickey Drexler! :)

  22. as a fashion student currently working on a project about j. crew, this was a very helpful and insightful post..didn't imagine mickey to sound and look so approachable and would i love to work for him someday


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