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Mickey Drexler Discusses J. Crew Mercantile

J. Crew Group's chairman and ceo on Tuesday discussed for the first time where the company is at with the newly trademarked name.

NEW YORK — The name J. Crew Mercantile has a ring to it and J. Crew Group Inc.’s chairman and chief executive Millard “Mickey” Drexler likes the sound of it.

This story first appeared in the May 7, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

That’s why the retailer trademarked the J. Crew Mercantile name in November, but for what purpose, if any at all, is to be determined, according to Drexler.

In the wake of speculation in the media since last week on what form J. Crew Mercantile could take, Drexler on Tuesday discussed for the first time where the company is at with the J. Crew Mercantile name, telling WWD, “Mercantile is a name we own. There’s not much beyond that. It’s a name that was available and we liked. The way we run the company, we are always thinking creatively, innovating, and managing our assets. We have secured names and trademarks with either loose ideas or intentions, or with our imaginations. Sometimes things come of it, or they don’t.

“We are always weighing possibilities,” Drexler added. “I have a very restless mind and therefore our company has a restless mind, creatively. There are a number of names we own, that we registered. That’s ongoing. If something strikes our fancy, we register a name.”

There has been speculation that the company could use the J. Crew Mercantile name for new products and categories, to develop a lower-priced store concept, or possibly to re-brand the J. Crew factory outlets. J. Crew did register the name for a variety of categories and services, including jewelry, fashion and travel accessories, umbrellas and backpacks.

Drexler, however, stressed that nothing has been decided and that there is the possibility that J. Crew Group never uses the Mercantile name.

“It doesn’t require any work to register a name,” Drexler noted. “Most of the time, things don’t come out of it. We are always focusing on our existing businesses,” which include J. Crew, Madewell and Crewcuts stores; the J. Crew catalogue; jcrew.com; jcrewfactory.com; the Madewell catalogue; madewell.com, and outlets.

Currently, J. Crew Mercantile, Drexler said, represents “just a thought — not a distraction whatsoever” to J. Crew’s existing businesses. “It’s so in its infancy,” Drexler added. “We have not conceptualized or internalized it. We are exploring whether or not we use it.”

Regarding media reports on J. Crew Mercantile, “It’s kind of been distorted beyond the reality of what it is,” he said.

Drexler said he didn’t have an answer yet for what the J. Crew Mercantile name might be applied to. He declined to mention other names that the company has registered.