By  on January 24, 2008

Gigi Guerra, a 10-year veteran of the magazine industry, has joined Madewell as director of brand marketing, a new position at the J. Crew Group start-up division.

Guerra was most recently editor at large of Lucky, where she wrote monthly travel shopping guides and traveled around the world to report on new stores and discover those falling under the radar of the general population.

Previously, she was a senior editor at Jane, where she wrote on topics from enduring wilderness camp to life in a convent, as well as celebrity profiles. Guerra was a freelance lifestyle writer and started her career at YM.

"She has incredible instinct for what's out there and what's coming, and totally gets it," said Millard "Mickey" Drexler, chairman and chief executive officer of J. Crew Group.

Guerra will report to Margo Brunelle, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for J. Crew, Madewell and Crewcuts.

Compared with J. Crew, Madewell offers an edgier take on casual clothes and is priced 20 to 30 percent less. The brand was born from the vision of Drexler and inspired by the former New Bedford, Mass., workwear company that bore the Madewell label. Strategy has centered on viral marketing, including word of mouth and blogs, as well as collaborations with DJs at stores.

"Madewell is really about a cool girl," Guerra said Wednesday. "She reads blogs, has cool friends and she's out in the clubs. She's her own personal stylist, and mixes things in a creative way. She's the point person, stylistically, among her circle." Traditional marketing techniques don't really apply, she added. "Madewell is a more creative brand."

However, like other apparel brands, Madewell is looking to build its following and sales volume, and open additional stores. A two-level, 2,650-square-foot store at 486 Broadway on the corner of Broome Street in SoHo is to open next month. It's Madewell's first permanent Manhattan store, and will replace the temporary unit at 532 Broadway in SoHo.

Madewell launched in fall 2006. There are locations in NorthPark Center in Dallas; Century City Mall in Los Angeles; The Domain in Austin, Tex.; Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas; The Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J., and the Natick Collection in Natick, Mass. Stores average 2,500 to 3,000 square feet in size.

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