J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler is stepping down, Business of Fashion just reported. He'll stay on as chairman and be succeeded by Jim Brett, who previously served as president of West Elm. The departure comes only weeks after the high-profile exit of J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons, who is credited with the company's fashionable and financial success over the last decade.
In the '90s, Drexler was known as the "merchant prince" for his ability to turn around Gap. But in 2002, as Gap saw dwindling sales, Drexler was let go and joined J.Crew a year later. Now it looks as if history is indeed repeating itself. Once the go-to brand of former first lady Michelle Obama, J.Crew suffered sharp financial decline and mass layoffs in the last few years.
In May, Drexler addressed concerns about the company's future in a Wall Street Journal interview in which he announced plans for the retailer to return as "an affordable and accessible brand for everybody." The strategy was to dramatically lower prices of 300 items. "We became a little too elitist in our attitude," Drexler admitted.
In a statement today, Drexler lightly touched upon J.Crew's new strategies. "This is an exciting time for J.Crew as we continue to make significant changes to position our company for long-term success," he said. "I look forward to moving into my new role and assisting Jim and the team in every way possible to help ensure a smooth and successful transition."