THE MICKEY TOUCH: “I don’t want to get emotional, but I love this shirt,” said Millard “Mickey” Drexler, while touring a J. Crew store. A new CNBC documentary about J. Crew’s chief executive officer, which airs Thursday, shows multiple store visits as an example of how involved he is with the brand, as the cameras also follow him to design meetings and a trip to a clothing mill in Milan. Jenna Lyons, president and executive creative director, is one of the few employees he kept on after taking over in 2003. “We’d gotten into vanilla land,” she said. “I knew this man was going to take us somewhere.” She described the clothing these days as a “triple-decker sundae.”
The Drexler profile follows his career trajectory, including stops at Ann Taylor and Gap, where he led a turnaround of the brand. He was eventually dismissed after sales stalled. “I left Gap not feeling that great about myself,” he said. Since joining J. Crew, Drexler is credited with driving company revenues up 170 percent to nearly $1.9 billion last year.
The documentary shows a few snippets of his personal life, including a trip to his old apartment building in the Bronx and a lunch with old friends from the neighborhood. As a child, he slept in the foyer of his family’s one-bedroom apartment. Now, he has seven homes, including the old Andy Warhol estate in Montauk. CNBC’s David Faber asks Drexler if the number of homes he owns is a reaction to his childhood. “It has something to do with that. I always wished I had a bedroom.” Now, he has more than he can count.