Quick! What are you wearing? And no, it’s not that kind of a question. If you’re wearing a pocketed T and khaki pants, or prewashed jeans, or if you’re a drag queen wearing a cute wedding dress – or not a drag queen but still in cute yet affordable wedding attire, you can thank Mickey Drexler. And who is Mickey Drexler? Well, he isn’t the guy in Flint, Michigan who had 14 children with 13 women. He is the guy now winning kudos for turning around J. Crew. Going from $30 million in losses to $172 million in profits before the economic downturn changed everything.
According to Drexler, his approach is to first of all have a vision and a point of view while also respecting the customer and encouraging staff creativity. And ultimately, details, details, details. He’s a hands-on guy who moved out of his CEO corner office to a desk in the middle of the creative floor. Long before he arrived at J Crew, Drexler was at Ann Taylor then at the Gap where he brought his famous list. The list was of 20 items that he thought every store should have because those were among the essentials that people wore every day.
It isn’t known if the essentials list approach works on non-clothing businesses. The essential tech toys list. The essential music lover’s list. Though all sorts of other lists come to mind, including the home pantry list, the kitchen essentials list, the must-see movies list and not to be forgotten, the recently popular Bucket Lists. What is known is that Mickey Drexler is always looking for opportunities to add value. Unable to find clothes for his son, he opened Gap Kids. Noting that brides were shopping J. Crew for dresses, he introduced a line of affordable wedding wear. Wonder if he plans to open a First Ladies store since Michelle Obama took to wearing J Crew around the political circle?
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