The new 2,000-square-foot unit.

J.Crew's children's store is growing in terms of square footage, as well as online, and is poised to bow in new international markets.

NEW YORK — He may be in the midst of a $3 billion deal to sell his company, but Millard “Mickey” Drexler always has time to tour a store. On Monday, he stopped by the newest Crewcuts, a 2,000-square-foot unit, on the eve of its opening today at 50 Hudson Street in TriBeCa.

This story first appeared in the February 1, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The 10th freestanding Crewcuts unit features signature boys’ and girls’ clothing and shoes along with exclusive partnerships with Levi’s, Belstaff and Sven clogs as well as a selection of toys and accessories.

Crewcuts is growing in terms of square footage, as well as online, and is poised to bow in new international markets. It also is growing by virtue of the fact that its size range has been extended to 14.

Drexler declined to talk about the proposed takeover of J. Crew by Texas Pacific Group and Leonard Green and Partners. After chatting with his team, including Jenna Lyons, president and executive creative director, and Jenny Cooper, Crewcuts’ designer, the J. Crew chairman and chief executive officer toured the downtown store. Picking up a toy safari plane by Schleich, Drexler said, “Is there a Schleich World the way there is a Lego World? Do they make other cars and trucks? Could we do a little Schleich shop?”

He moved on to footwear. “This is a great shoe department,” Drexler commented. “Can you have footprints leading down the wall? Is there any way to talk about [footwear] a little more? Are these all the socks? Do girls wear boys’ socks?”

Since singular locations such as Hudson Street don’t grow on trees, J. Crew has been integrating Crewcuts areas into adult stores where possible. To date, there are 45 such locations. The 46th will be unveiled at the end of the month at 95 Fifth Avenue, where an existing two-level J. Crew store is being renovated and expanded to three floors to accommodate Crewcuts.

The Internet will continue to be a growth vehicle as well. “Things grow because people like them. Being online and being in the direct business is like having a store.

“We’re thinking that one of these days we’ll take [Crewcuts] overseas,” Drexler said. “We get an enormous amount of demand from overseas. We’re expanding Crewcuts online and going to the United Kingdom in the second half of this year. We have kids online in Japan and China, and we plan to open Crewcuts online in Canada.”

Crewcuts isn’t shrunken-down versions of adult styles. “We’re designing for parents who want sophisticated, better clothing,” Lyons said. “We’re creating an environment that complements the clothing.”

That environment includes a wall sculpture by Confetti System made from Mylar and tissue paper leaves, flowers and fringe. Rebekah Maysles, the daughter of filmmaker Albert Maysles, hand-painted animals, flowers and surreal images on wallpaper, depicting buildings in the neighborhood lining the entryway and bathroom walls.

“We’re not in business to sell commodities,” Drexler said. “This is an emotional business. It doesn’t make sense to open another kids’ store that looks the same.”

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