NEW YORK — Following one’s merchandising instinct and re-examining a core brand were two themes of recent WWD reports that focused on J. Crew chairman and chief executive Millard “Mickey” Drexler as well as Jones New York.

Drexler’s advice to the fashion industry was to “go with your gut.” The merchandising wizard who transformed the way America dresses at Gap Inc. and then turned around J. Crew to the point where last year it had one of the most successful initial public offerings in retail history also dismissed the idea the fashion industry is talent-starved. In Drexler’s view, “The merchants are around — if we unearth them.”

Drexler made a rare speech Tuesday at a luncheon at the National Retail Federation’s annual expo and convention in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. He received the NRF’s Gold Medal Award, its highest honor, and called upon the industry to cultivate talent, think more about design, product and quality, and pursue creativity and integrity in a world that he believes can sometimes be too preoccupied with fast food and fast fashion.

Meanwhile, Jones New York said this month that it is rolling out a more personal, relationship-based marketing campaign for 2007. In addition to a new ad campaign and continued philanthropic alignments, Jones Apparel Group is forming a VIP program for customers of its core line and has signed Lloyd Boston to a two-year contract as “the official Jones New York style guy.”

“Jones New York is at many times the most expensive thing in our customer’s closet, and we want to treat them in a way that makes them feel special,” said Stacy Lastrina, Jones Apparel Group’s executive vice president for marketing and creative services.

For a detailed look at the headlines discussed above, see the following archived articles:

Mickey Sounds Off: Talent Is Out There, Just Go and Find It

JNY Gets Personal in Marketing

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