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Few retailers have garnered as much space in the print and Web pages of WWD as Millard “Mickey” Drexler, chairman and chief executive officer of J. Crew Group Inc.
In his storied career, Drexler had two magic acts: transforming a prepped-out, poorly run J. Crew into one of the hottest and most innovative labels on the fashion scene, and, earlier, catapulting Gap into a household name that uniformed America with jeans, khakis and T-shirts. Drexler transformed casual basics into cool items and established Gap Inc. as a retail conglomerate by rolling out Gap, reinventing Banana Republic and creating from scratch Old Navy, now a juggernaut. Gap got so big, it started to stumble and Drexler was pushed out—some say too soon to let him turn around the business. New management was brought in to bring Gap back on sound financial footing, but it’s still struggling with getting customers into the store. Drexler’s bitter dismissal only fired up his creative juices, driving him in 2003 to J. Crew, which became his platform for reasserting his remarkable brand-building capabilities.
Not long after he joined Crew, Drexler told WWD, “You need to make money in this business, like any other business. It’s an art as well as a science, but we are a little more sensitive to creativity and we’re sensitive to trends, but not trendy.”