Chain Store Age
NEW YORK - Millard Drexler, who built Gap into a retail institution and then went on to turn around J. Crew, will introduce a new casual brand called Madewell this fall, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) reported Tuesday.
Madewell is being launched as a women-only line focused on "timeless and ageless" casual merchandise, with price points 20% to 30% lower than J. Crew, with 80% of the selection priced under $100.
The first Madewell store will open in Dallas in late August, followed by another in Los Angeles. A third opening is likely by yearend. WWD reported that although it is being developed by J. Crew, no connection will be apparent to consumers.
The project has been in the works for about a year and has been kept quiet by a team of about 10 employees. The brand is led by Drexler, chairman and CEO of J. Crew Group, and Liz Meltzer, head of Madewell merchandising and planning.
Meltzer joined J. Crew about a year ago from Calvin Klein, where she was VP of merchandising for jeans. She worked with Drexler at Banana Republic in the early ‘90s. In the mid‘90s, she worked with him again at J. Crew.
With Drexler’s successful track record, Madewell could ultimately represent a broadside against Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters.
"I can't predict what's going to happen," Drexler told the publication. "Everybody in the world, including Wal-Mart, started with one store. If I dream about it, I like to think [Madewell] could be a big business. But right now, we look at it day to day."
Madewell stores will be 3,000 sq. ft., about half the size of J. Crew stores.