Longtime J. Crew CEO Will Be Replaced By West Elm President

Mickey Drexler, left, and James Brett. Images via AP.
Mickey Drexler, left, and James Brett. Images via AP.

In a job swap made in design-conscious, semi-conservative yuppie heaven, West Elm President James Brett will become CEO of J. Crew, the ailing retailer that lost creative director Jenna Lyons in April. WWD reports that current CEO Mickey Drexler, who has helped the Crew for 14 years, is stepping down.

J. Crew’s sales have been slipping for at least two years, down 14 percent already in 2017, but surely that had nothing to do with Drexler’s (or Lyons’s, for that matter) exit, right? It’s just that at nearly 73 years old, Drexler told WWD, he’s itching to do other stuff:

“I am a young-old guy. I have ‘shpilkes.’ I am always in a state of impatience. I have been here for 14 years. I thought it was time to move on and lessen up on the day to day,” he said. “The [succession] plan had been in motion for some time. I told the board a year ago I was ready to set down and move to chairman. We worked together looking for the right talent to lead the next phase of growth…When we found Jim we knew had to move quickly.”


Incoming CEO James Brett has been West Elm’s President for seven years, schlepping poofy couches in tasteful shades of eggplant and presiding over the furniture retailers move into the hotel business. He lives in DUMBO, Brooklyn, and in 2013 told the New York Times, “We’ve gotten to know everyone who lives here, which includes some of the artists and squatters who pioneered this neighborhood. They’ve all become our friends.” He may have friends... but does he have shpilkes?

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I’m always surprised when executives with terrible track records keep getting jobs. What about all the talented, smart people in the world looking for work? Sigh. West Elm has infamously shitty internal procedures (endless terrible reviews online from disgruntled customers missing couches and beds with comically bad service stories etc.). How is James Brett getting work? So I guess J.Crew customers can look forward to missed shipments, incorrect product deliveries, and zero communications between fulfillment and delivery staff. No one will be able to find their pants or anorak jackets because the stores don’t talk to each other, nor do the warehouses, nor do the delivery personnel.

If I were born a white man, exactly how untalented would I have to be to not keep climbing that corporate ladder?