Thursday, June 10, 2010

J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler Is On Top

"Thanks!" to Raina (check out her lovely "If The Lamp Shade Fits" blog) who shared the following article over from Racked (click here) on an upcoming article at the Wall Street Journal (click here).
Mickey Drexler, Retail Therapist, Fixing Companies Since 1983
By Danica Lo
June 10, 2010

In 2002, Steve Jobs, who was on the board at the Gap, phoned then-CEO Mickey Drexler to tell him he'd been fired from his job of 19 years—during which time Drexler took the Gap from a 450-store $450 million business to a 2,000+ store $14 billion business.

"I felt terrible about being fired,” Drexler tells WSJ, the Wall Street Journal magazine in a story that's slated to hit newsstands this Saturday. "I still feel angry every time I pass a store. That’s right, every time."

The man behind the Gap's legendary khaki campaign has since moved onto take the reins at J.Crew. When he arrived at the prep-tastic brand in 2003, J.Crew had 196 stores and was $609 million in debt. After two years, Drexler turned the company around—J.Crew made its first profit in 2005. By last year, in spite of the recession, the comany's revenues clocked in at $1.57 billion, above pre-recession figures, and profits increased 40%.

He's done well for himself, too, after cashing in a $350 million stake in the Gap after leaving (he also owns about $270 million in J.Crew stocks and options).

Not to mention all the praise-lavishing, adoring press:

Drexler’s zeal both for product and for J. Crew is almost messianic. His manner of delivery owes much to successful preachers, politicians and self-help gurus, who linger over their lines, often returning to key themes and engaging individuals on a one-on-one basis. It’s hard not to be mesmerized by Drexler—“We have all, to some extent or another, drunk the Kool-Aid,” one staffer says— and it’s also tough to cut through the media hype. There are times when it becomes clear that at least part of the Drexler package (the corporate shareholder part) is smoothly cloaked in PR.

This weekend's Wall Street Journal magazine story is a worthwhile read—if not for a glimpse at Drexler's legendary magnanimous personality (he rides a bike around the office and answers customer emails himself, sometimes) then for the scenes where Drexler takes the WSJ around the Bronx neighborhood where he grew up.

“Our world was small,’” he says, as we pull up to a yellowing brick apartment building. An African- American woman wearing a Diana Ross (circa The Supremes) style wig and chic red lipstick is unlocking the door as we approach. “It’s OK,” Drexler says, as we stand behind her, “I used to live here.”

Wall Street Journal [Official Site]
I can't wait to grab the WSJ from my husband this weekend to read the article! Mickey has done an impressive job with J.Crew over the years.

What are your thoughts on the post? Do you think J.Crew will continue to perform well under Mickey Drexler? Will you read the WSJ this weekend? :)


  1. Thanks for the post Alexis!. Mickey has done terrific job at J.Crew.
    BTW, does anybody happen to have his email address? I remember from some old posts that he actually replies to customers' email. I had some very dissapointing incidents recently. I emailed customer service but all I got was some pretty generic answers from one of those customer service rep. So I would like to bring this issue up to some upper management. Email me: issylovescrew[at]gmail[dot]com. Thanks!--Issy

  2. @ Issy - "How to Executive Email Carpet Bomb J.Crew":

  3. Raina- you are so right! There are a ton of sailor stripe tees in that group pic that its hard to find Mickey!!! ;)

  4. IMO--he's genius. I liked the gap for most of the time he was there and knew employees of his at headquarters then that had nothing but respect for him. I never shopped at JC until he took over. thank you MD!

  5. interesting..that's around the time I started noticing j.crew. it may have not been a coincidence. Thank you for the informative piece!

  6. Late 2005 is when I started getting wrong items in my orders and saw some quality issues beginning and then really started getting quality problems in 2006-7 and going downward on certain iems ever since then. I had bought from JCrew since around 2000-1 season. Was always please with quality and order processing then. Hmmm......

    Anyway, just my general experiences and observations. Maybe I buy so much that errors and defective items are bound to happen.

  7. It is hard for me to judge Mickey's performance yet. 2005-2008 was nice, not after 2008, when I feel their qualities (design quality and quality of clothes) fall significantly.

    JCrew's PR has been successful though, but I don't feel enough substance behind the PR image they are pushing.

  8. I also think he has done a superb job in this retail climate! He has answered my email directly. If he couldn't help he passed me to an assistant who was eager to please and he then did a follow up email. He has got my business!


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