Maverick J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler Steps Down

J.Crew announced this week that its revered CEO, Mickey Drexler, is stepping down.

The 72-year-old executive will remain chairman of the company’s board, but will be replaced by a new CEO, James Brett, in July.

According to CNBC, Brett is a 25-year retail veteran, who most recently served as president of Williams-Sonoma’s red-hot home brand West Elm (he also held senior roles at Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and J.C. Penney).

Drexler’s biggest achievement was likely his orchestration of the Gap’s revival in the ’90s, after a period when that brand had been seriously stagnating (as it is now).

Another high point in his tenure: Drexler built up the Madewell brand into an influential, fresh-feeling concept that for a time helped buoy the flagging J.Crew label financially.

Drexler owns a stake in J.Crew, and CNBC reports he’s “been scrambling to restructure its debt, which is threatening to pull the retailer into bankruptcy.”

In May, Drexler told The Wall Street Journal that he underestimated how quickly technology would change retail, saying, “I’ve never seen the speed of change as it is today.”

He added that the brand, under his leadership and the creative direction of Jenna Lyons, had become “a little too elitist in our attitude.”

(Image: group product shot courtesy of J.Crew)

JCK Magazine Editor