Tag Archives: Mickey Drexler

Is There A Change at J. Crew?

Hello-Hello and welcome to a new week here at the Prepatorium, we appreciate you stopping in for a visit.

We begin today with an update on J. Crew, a brand we haven’t spent much time chatting about recently.  Canada’s Globe and Mail took a look at the company in advance of its first Canadian store opening.  J. Crew Primping for its Canadian Debut examines some of the retailer’s recent business decisions, this initial portion references CEO Mickey Drexler.

Customers were complaining that his stores no longer carried the “cafe Capri” women’s cropped pants. The shelves were stocked with too many ruffled tops and mini-skirts, and too few classics such as Italian cashmere sweaters, ballet flats and knee-length pencil skirts.

Mr. Drexler felt the pain. The missteps caused J. Crew Group Inc. to stumble financially. Today….he feels the pressure to once again generate the fashion hits for which he is famous.”

We selected a few examples relative to what the story discusses, beginning with Crew’s Schoolboy Madras Blazer, an item more in keeping with what customers would consider the brand’s heritage.  Although the shrunken cut may fit too snugly, at least the garment harkens back to the brand’s ‘preppy roots.’  On the other hand, while a pencil skirt is always in style, efforts to ‘update’ the look don’t work in the ‘Pleated Pencil Skirt‘ seen lower right, the detail at the hip is unlikely to flatter anyone bigger than a Size 2. (As a sometimes Size 4 we figure we’re allowed to grip about such things.)

Back to the Globe & Mail’s story:

J. Crew’s recent fashion errors underline Mr. Drexler’s strengths and challenges. He knew quickly last summer that some of the new younger styles weren’t working, and that the stores were under-stocked on classics.

More pieces probably unpopular with “old style” core customers include things like an Heirloom Lace Vest originally priced at $295, and a $150 Sequin Sweatshirt (now $99), garments that are simply not going to work for many. 

More from the story:

We skewed a little younger than we should have – a little more trendy,” Mr. Drexler….said in an interview…“We ran out of a lot of our best-sellers. When you don’t have enough of the best, you skew too young – you have a tough time. It happened. Right now it’s kind of fixed.”

Other items in the too trendy category would likely include the Mona Shirtdress (left) and the $995 Plumage Skirt, covered in feathers, now on sale for $599.

We thought the company did a decent job maintaining a core of perfectly acceptable pieces, much like the Cotton Dress shown below.

To be fair, we never encountered any difficulty finding basic cashmere pieces, like the sweater below.

Via J. Crew

But then we didn’t look very often, at least not in the last several years. Once a core customer is turned off by a brand’s offerings they are not as likely to pay casual visits to the retailer, either in person or online. There are too many other choices available in the marketplace, the retailing landscape too crowded.

One of the more interesting things about the story is the way Mr. Drexler is referenced throughout the piece, here is one example essentially saying the company is dependent upon his talents:

“Drexler is human and obviously made some mistakes last year,” said Mark Cohen, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York and a former CEO of Sears Canada. “The good news about a one-man band is that, when in tune, the melody is awfully sweet. But when it’s off-key, the music is awful.

There is no reference to J. Crew’s President and Creative Director, Jenna Lyons.  However, it is possible the appeal she holds for many of the firm’s customers in the US won’t carry across the border until people are more familiar with J. Crew’s offerings.

In efforts to better engage customers the company has embraced social media, growing the content on its website in addition to using Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. For example, as in previous seasons, the fall lookbook is now available online.

Via J. Crew Tumblr

Here are three looks from the Fall 2011 line.

Via J. Crew

We do hope J. Crew is able to right the ship, for years the company did *many* things very well. More from this fall’s line.

Via J. Crew

What do you think, is the company getting back to styles you are more comfortable with?

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We leave you with a bright and fun image, actually a fundraiser for the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

National Aquarium

The limited-edition Lilly Pulitzer scarf is a fundraiser for the Aquarium, available now at the Aquarium’s gift shop. Here is a better look at the detail in the pattern.

National Aquarium

For an *outstanding* post on the topic, visit Let The Tide Pull Your Dreams Ashore.

Until next time, g’bye!

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Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle

‘Fleece’ by Brooks Brothers Sneak Peek

Hello-Hello, and Happy Monday!

With things crazy-busy here at The Princess, we jump right in with an early look at the new Brooks Brothers line for young ladies, Fleece.

Courtesy Brooks Brothers

These images were posted this weekend on the new Brooks Brothers Facebook page.

Courtesy Brooks Brothers

The new line is slated to launch in time for back-to-school shopping.

Courtesy Brooks Brothers

The Brooks Brothers Facebook page also shows this fall’s styles for the young master of the house, just click here to see the upcoming fashions; below we show the logo for the new line.

Courtesy Brooks Brothers

According to the Brooks FB page, information about a private Fleece Trunk Show for FB fans will be announced on their FB Wall (for those unfamiliar with Facebook, this is rather like one’s home page, for lack of a better term).  Our hats are off to the design team at B2, for the most part we think the girls collection looks promising.

While the majority of the Fleece styles for young men are also impressive, we have a moderate concern about this:

Courtesy Brooks Brothers

As many readers are more than tired of hearing aware, our LogoPhobia can be triggered by something like the item seen above, and in the case of Brooks Brothers, we are off the grid a bit sensitive to the topic, borderline hysterical concerned that logos on sweatshirts are merely the first step on a slippery slope. A slope that this company has judiciously avoided in most respects.

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Saturday brought us our monthly issue of WSJ magazine, always a fun read. This issue was particularly enjoyable for any preppish reader, beginning with the cover story, “The Church of Mickey Drexler, Inside the world of J. Crew’s evangelical CEO“.

Courtesy WSJ Magazine

Tina Gaudoin’s profile is enlightening, and while we are not terribly fond of many Crew fashion decisions, we cannot fault Mr. Drexler’s business acumen.

Another interesting piece in this issue, an interview with designer Thom Browne.

Jeff Riedel/WSJ Magazine

Mr. Browne is perhaps best known to Princess readers as the designer of Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece collections, as well as the man pushing higher hemlines. For men.

Finally, WSJ takes a fast glance at tote bags, commenting that “Preppy goes paisley and punchy with this summer’s take on the traditional tote.”

Nigel Cox/WSJ Magazine

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We want to mention another children’s line, this one from Princess favorite, J. McLaughlin.

J. McLaughlin

We like a number of the dresses for girls, along with other offerings in the limited edition collection.

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Here is one of the day’s Pretty in Pink offerings, Marilyn Monroe in her iconic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes dress.

The famous gown was sold at auction this weekend for a staggering $309,000.

For another Pretty in Pink that is also an Adventure in Argyle, we bring you this image via the always-on-top-of-things Erin at Pink and Green Scene.

Pink and Green Scene

For more on the Summer Oasis beach Towel, click here.

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We leave you with this image as we celebrate and honor Flag Day.

Toby Talbot/AP

Goodbye until next time!

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Filed under Argyle, Logos, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, Pretty in Pink

J. Crew Execs Everywhere, Are Crossword Puzzles an Ivy Thing?

Hello-Hello and Happy Monday!  We hope everyone enjoyed a splendid weekend!

It seems this past weekend had a bit of a J. Crew management theme in some of the national media. As previously mentioned, J. Crew Grand Pooh-Bah Mickey Drexler was profiled yesterday on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” program.  The feature looks quite interesting, click here to see the full story.

Also this Sunday, the LA Times carried an interesting story on Jenna Lyons, J. Crew’s Design Director.

PHOTO: Melanie Acevedo

PHOTO: Melanie Acevedo

If curious about what duties and responsibilities her job actually involves, the story explains:

“That title means she’s in charge of every design element of the company, website and catalog, and it’s her attention to detail — delicate beading, raw edges, crepe de Chine ruffles — that sets J.Crew apart from other mall stores. The company’s ability to be both aspirational and attainable has made it popular with Indianapolis career women and Birkin-toting Malibu trophy wives alike.”

Fashion Critic Booth Moore’s article looks at the ‘cult of Jenna’:

“Bloggers evaluate her personal as well as professional style, contributing to the budding cult of Jenna. They wax eloquently about her love of neutral colors, Sharpie pens and Maybelline Cool Watermelon lipstick.

When it comes to the monetization of this phenomenon or other tangible values attached to such popularity, stock analysts aren’t necessarily seeing it:

“But praise in the blogosphere can’t guarantee a surge in sales of all those pencil skirts and cardigans. “Nobody needs another one-pocket tee or twin set or pleat-front skirt,” says Richard Jaffe, a retail analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus and Co. “Your closet is full of them.”

This feature on Ms. Lyons, when read in tandem with the CBS profile on CEO Mickey Drexler, provides insight into the business of fashion. More from the LA Times piece:

“The chief executive and the designer behave a little like a father-daughter team. Over lunch at Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, she tells him that “being back here even for one day, all my insecurities come back. Women here are in such great shape. Everyone is blond and beautiful. Girls are trying on bathing suits and coming out of the dressing rooms and I’m like, ‘Just stay in there!’ “

The story also  offers a look at select items from the Fall 2009 J. Crew Weddings & Parties line.

Lucinda Gown at JCrew.com

Lucinda Gown at JCrew.com

The dress is a poly/cotton/silk blend retailing for $2500.  Also shown, the cotton Erica dress in Cypress, a color available this fall.  (Note: our link connects to the current Erica dress, with most colors on sale for $99.)

Erica Dress at JCrew.com

Erica Dress at JCrew.com

And finally in our “J. Crews News section” this morning, word the company’s spinoff brand Madewell 1937 is launching a jeans collection deemed “… a bit more price friendly.”

Courtesy Photo via WWD

Courtesy Photo via WWD

This morning’s WWD (Women’s Wear Daily, subscription req’d.) reports on the new line, Madewell ’37s, focusing on a single “skinny skinny” jean available in five colors. Perhaps most importantly,the new jean will retail at $58.50; other Madewell denim starts at $78.

Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

As far as differentiating the new jeans from other ?

“The tag line for marketing the ’37s is “Cool jeans. Great price. We’ve got your back.”’

This article also quotes J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler:

“There’s a new world today. The denim customer is no longer trading up to higher price points. With customers giving us feedback and the marketplace changing, it was pretty clear there was a need to come out with a collection of jeans a bit more price friendly. Jeans at $92 to $110 represented the heart of the business.”

While we are not exactly the Madewell demo (cough-cough), it is good to see retailers being smart in pricing.

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Our final item today has *nothing* to do with either J. Crew Group or Mr. Drexler, not that we are Drexler-averse, to the contrary, we think very highly of his skills. We just need to chat about something else, don’t you think?

No, our next item involves a statement contained within this story in yesterday’s Times, a feature looking at the continued demise of the crossword puzzle, along with other puzzles, in many publications.

“The Atlantic’s Puzzler, which will take its final bow in September, and The New York Sun’s crossword are among the most notable recent casualties, in part because of their Ivy League street cred. (Let’s face it: the crosswords in TV Guide and People magazine seldom generate heat at Hamptons dinner parties.)”

“Ivy League street cred?” Now, TP adores her crossword puzzles. Nothing is quite as comforting as settling in with pen (it must be a very specific pen you understand) and newspaper, generally the Times, but we have been known to utilize others in a pinch. But we have never heard them associated with an Ivy, that is a new one for us.

Have you heard of such an affiliation in anyone’s mind previously? More importanly, do you use pen or pencil when you do the puzzle? When pondering how to best answer these deep questions, do keep in mind the world’s fate hangs in the balance. (Heh-heh.)

With this wackiness we say G’bye until next time!

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Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

Sneak Peek at Intuition for Target, Those Gossip Girls!

Hello-Hello and oh-so-Happy-Friday to all!

We thought everyone might like a reminder about the new line debuting at Targèt this Sunday. (Although it has already been spotted in some stores.)

Cortesy T

Courtesy Target

We are talking about the Hollywood Intuition for Target Collection.  Designer and stylist Jaye Hersh is the creative mind behind the Collection; she is perhaps best known for her more-than-hip Hollywood boutique, Intuition.

The Tarszay line includes handbags and small leather goods, scarves and jewelry, hats and headbands, and more.

Courtesy Target

Courtesy Target

Intuition is a major fave for loads of celebrities, including one of the original AntiPreps. Below, Ms. Hilton carries the HollywoodIntuition Belt Bag.

parishiltonibeltbagPrices for this new group will run the gamut; $2.99 for a headband to $29.99 for a handbag, very much in line with other collections at the Boutique.

Courtesy

Courtesy Target

Those price points are a world away from what some pieces cost in the couture line Ms. Hersh did for the retailer back in 2006; that Collection featured Target’s bullseye logo on all manner of things and prices ranged from $25 to $3000. (Ummm, we must claim Newzheimer’s as we have no recollection of this at all… do you?) Below, faux-leather pouches from the Collection debuting Sunday.

Courtesy Target

Courtesy Target

It looks like there are lots of goodies, clearly something requiring retail reconnaissance in the not-too-distant future.

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For those interested in closely following happenings at J. Crew, CEO Mickey Drexler will be profiled on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” this Sunday.

From the Memo Pad story in this morning’s WWD:

“… closely trailing Drexler and his team on and off for about a year, experiencing closed-door design reviews, spontaneous brainstorming sessions, photo shoots and the rise of new retail concepts, such as the Liquor and the J. Crew Collection stores.

It could be an entertaining story, probably instructive for those of us who have studied fashion merchandising and marketing.

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As we generally share new of Gossip Girl stars landing on magazine covers, we have news the Blake Lively cover for the Glamour UK August issue.

Courtesy

Courtsy Glamour UK

As always, there is no shortage of photos accompanying the cover story.

Courtesy Glamour UK

Courtesy Glamour UK

We also have a number of other G2 tidbits:

  • Joanna Garcia from “” is guest-starring for 4 episodes, playing ‘Nate’s’ love interest.
  • Hillary Duff’s multi-episode guest spot on the show begins on October 5.
  • Season 3 of the show premieres September 14.

The entire cast has been out and about this week, back on location and shooting in the city. Below we see costars Ed Westwick (at his gnarly best) with Leighton Meester.

Courtesy JustJared.com

Courtesy JustJared.com

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Speaking of Season 3, it is merely 5 weeks until we see the return of Mad Men.  August 16. 10pm EDT.

But what we really wanted to ask: has everyone seen the creative way amc-tv packaged the Season 2 DVD set?

41tNjoi6CYL._SS500_

The set is designed to look like an old-style mens shirt box, a nifty idea IOHO.

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A reminder, ArtHamptons gets underway today; it is worth the trip if you are in the area and in the market. Actually, even if not in the market, it can be fun to attend simply to look at all goodies.

If anywhere near Water Mill,one might want to do a drive-by and peek at the 2009 Hampton Designer Showhouse, it is now officially on the market.  (The area isn’t exactly our ideal, but the proceeds do go to a good cause, Southampton Hospital.)

May be it be a simply splendid weekend for everyone, regardless of where one is located!

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Filed under Gossip Girl, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Preppy People, The AntiPrep

Is Luxury Dead? Lower Prices for J. Crew? Is 60% Off the New Black?

DISCLAIMER: The following report is rated M for Mature; it descends to new lows in its frequent and flagrant use of the M word (money) and it is intended only for adult readers.

MPAA

MPAA

Everywhere one looks there are stories about “the death of luxury.”

JP Morgan recently called upscale retailer Saks Fifth Avenue “the Gucci Blue Light Special,” referencing the deep discounts they have taken this fall. Below, the company’s sale page on their website.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue

The International Herald Tribune (as well as the NYT) ran a story Monday, “Luxe is losing its edge,” with the focus on struggles facing high-end jeweler Bulgari.

Courtesy Bulgari

Courtesy Bulgari

The story also talks about stores cutting back on expansion plans, like Burberry, Cartier, Saks and others.

The “Sale” notices do continue to pour in via both email and standard mail, many from establishments one would never associate with such aggressive price cuts, like this one from Barneys:

Barneys New York

Barneys New York

Previously, *if* for some insane reason stores felt forced to discount at this level, they hoped and prayed it would not negatively impact their image as purveyors of luxury goods.

We cannot remember the last time (if ever) we saw Burberry Prorsum selling for 60% off their original price, as is the case with the Empire Cocoon Coat.

Burberry Prorsum Cocoon Coat

Burberry Prorsum Cocoon Coat

Not everything at Burberry is marked down at that level; this children’s Argyle Sweater is “only 30% off.”

Burberry

Burberry

The same is true for the children’s Wool Duffel Coat:

Burberry

Burberry

There is even a post at Vivre Magazine online asking if “60% Off is the New Black?” The story raises the question that TP considers the elephant in the room for retailers:

“As stores slash and cut their prices just to hear the cash registers ring, you wonder if consumers will ever want to pay for full price for anything ever again. When this is all over, will any customer actually walk into ANY store and still look at Prada wallets and other designer handbags that used to be kept behind glass and are currently on tables and bins, the same way again?”

The Times ran a story in November “In Hard Times, No More Fancy Pants,” quoting one of our favorite authors:

“The era of conspicuous consumption, at least for the foreseeable future, has come to a close,” said Paco Underhill, the author of “Why We Buy,” which explores the science of retail.”

In yesterday’s WWD a story made the case that “Flaunting Days Are Over as Consumers Cut Back.

The story by Sharon Edelson does feature an amazing Graff necklace that we simply had to share:

Graff Courtesy Photo

Graff Courtesy Photo

The piece is a little over the top in our estimation (this is where Great Aunt Molly would lower her voice and whisper ‘New money sweetie… you know what I mean.”).  Actually, the story channels GAM in a remarkable fashion:

“Logos are becoming less important, said Pedraza, noting that customers are starting to ask for unmarked brands. “People want very understated products,” he said. “They want to consume privately.”

“While people with new money tend to define themselves by their labels and what they spend, the rules are changing. People want to buy more classic luxury at better prices. They don’t want to be the people who are showing off.”

For many readers this is not exactly breaking news. How are you reacting? Are you simply purchasing necessities and/or discretionary items as desired, or waiting for markdowns? Or perhaps a mix of both…?

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While not considered a luxury retailer, J. Crew has also been in the news.  As reported on the WSJ Holiday Sales blog, J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler said:

“J. Crew is trying to adapt, he said, by making small investments in new concepts, implementing a hiring freeze… looking at lowering opening price points for its crewcuts kids line.

Did everyone notice the hiring freeze? We almost missed it upon reading about Crewcut prices, but it was noted in a story on GlobeSt, a real estate website:

“J. Crew has initiated a company-wide hiring freeze Drexler revealed, even during the holiday season… If someone wants to hire someone, someone’s got to leave,” Drexler said.”

Regular readers will remember Mr. Drexler’s comments shared in this post about lowering price points on some adult merchandise. Speaking about the overall climate for retailers:

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life…”

“Right now we’re all a little afraid,” he said. “If there’s anyone getting up in the morning and not saying ‘uh oh,’ then I’d like some of that medication.”

If Mr. Drexler locates a source for those meds we hope he brings enough for the rest of the class.  If not, we fear we shall be forced to make do with a little Prozac latte.

Indeed.

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Filed under Argyle, Logos, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

J. Crew “Uppity?” Also, J Crew Women’s Collection Now Open

Well, hello again.  We spent a good part of the day away from Preppy Princess InterGalactic headquarters, picking up a houseguest and tooling about the area, come home and see this headline for Eric Wilson’s column in today’s Times:

J. Crew Gets Uppity

Now, a bit of background for anyone who hasn’t spent time toiling as an intern (or even as a paid employee, TP has done both) at a newspaper: the person who writes the headlines is well removed from the person who writes the story. Unless something has changed since we did print, Eric Wilson most assuredly did not declare J. Crew “uppity.”

As far as the story itself goes, the question is asked about the timing of opening the new J. Crew Women’s Collection. (That story follows this one.)

“Regardless of the market, J.Crew’s new designer collection — sold here and at jcrew.com — has raised eyebrows among analysts and competitors who wonder why on earth a company known for its preppy basics would put on such airs. Mr. Drexler said he believes in the product.”

“The first thing you see inside the store is a jacket covered in hand-painted French sequins to look like tortoiseshell, with a price of $3,000.”

“The clothes look more like those at Michael Kors, with featherweight cashmere scarves ($150), a gold beaded dress ($595) and a printed calf-hair jacket for $2,200; but mixed in were J. Crew staples like $85 matchstick cords.”

Mr. Wilson raises some valid points, although he points out:

“In the first three days, the store sold three of the $3,000 jackets and a surprising number of silk flower pins priced from $50 to $200, Ms. Lyons Mazeau said, looking at the numbers as a sort of validation. (Of 200 pins ordered for the store, only a dozen or so remained on Wednesday.)”

The next several months will bring rough sledding for almost every retailer; it will be interesting to see who does well in this environment. J. Crew’s first Men’s Collection store opened in Tribeca this August. (Here is one of our never-ending and somewhat tedious posts about it.)

With their second Men’s-only store slated to open next month in New Jersey (Garden State mall), Mr. Drexler has announced yet a third Men’s store.  This one will be in Soho, conveniently located next to their Madewell brand store on Broadway.  We thank the good folks over at Racked for the photo and their remarkable ability to stay ahead of all things J. Crew, among many other topics.

Regular blog readers know The Princess believes that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. This is only one of many reasons she is pleased to share the news that the J. Crew Women’s Collection store has finally opened on the UES (Upper East Side) in New York.

John Aquino

PHOTO: John Aquino

The company is doing what we call a “soft-launch” if you will, no major promotion, the doors simply opened one day last week, and voila! There it was in all its perfection! The merchandise mix sounds fabulous in today’s WWD story:

“… the Collection store presents some higher-end products such as calfskin jackets, priced $2,200, or patent leather jackets lined in silk twill with a Ratti print, $1,800.” (Below.)

Lucido Patent Leather Jacket

Lucido Patent Leather Jacket

“There are also metallic jackets and shoes in the $300 range….”

John Aquino

PHOTO: John Aquino

“… textured calfskin skirts priced at $495, as well as silk Japanese obi belts, Rolex watches, hand-painted Elizabeth halters, one-of-a-kind jewelry, including a vintage “mazel tov” charm bracelet, Lugano luggage…”

Lugano Valise

Lugano Valise

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Above, one of the Lugano pieces, also available online and through the catalog.

“… handmade silk flowers (only three per customer allowed), bleached and dyed python bags and clutches….”

Below, one of the $3000 python Jamie handbags referenced in the article.

Python Jamie Bag

Python Jamie Bag

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One of the many reasons we are so fond of Millard “Mickey” Drexler, J. Crew’s chairman and chief executive is evident in this statement:

“People tell me, ‘How about putting up a bigger sign,’ but we don’t want to intrude on anyone… In an Upper East Side building, I don’t think big signs are very elegant,” continued Drexler. “The last thing people want to see is their neighborhood become a strip center. It’s our way not to be out there, but to be there.”

John Aquino

Photo: John Aquino

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Above, Mr. Drexler and Jenna Lyons Mazeau, the company’s creative director, while touring the new store.  The store is on Madison Avenue, at 79th.

While you won’t find any of these goodies in the Collection, there is still a significant amount of merchandise still available at the J. Crew Clearance sale.  For an additional 20% savings on Clearance goods, use the coupon code EXTRA20.

EXTRA20

Coupon Code: EXTRA20

We may not post every day this week as we are busy showing our houseguest around the area, so we apologize in advance for being a poor comment-leaver, we shall try and catch-up as soon as humanly possible.

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Filed under Obama Fashion & Politics, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Updates