Mickey Drexler Documentary on CNBC

In the spring of 2008 I posted the video of J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler’s captivating appearance on Charlie Rose. It was after watching that program back then that I first started to get an idea about what makes Mickey tick. Over the past several years I have seen first hand that Mickey is a truly fascinating person. Tonight, CNBC takes things a step further with a one hour documentary about Mr. Drexler and J.Crew. Judging from the clip below — which CNBC surprisingly sent over as an ACL exclusive— we’re all in for an interesting evening tonight.

While filming in the Albini Group mill in Bergamo Italy, where Thomas Mason fabrics are made, Silvio Albini, fifth generation to run the mill was showing Mickey Drexler (and CNBC’s David Faber) how it all works.  During the tour, Drexler noticed a sign on the factory wall that reminds him of a customer email and he springs into action.

One last personal tidbit about Mr. Drexler. When The New York Times profiled me as part of the “New Breed of Bloggers,” one of the first emails I got was from Mickey —a person whom I’ve had a few meetings with over the years but is really someone I don’t know— wishing me congratulations. It was surprising to say the least. But just like in the clip above, the man is connected to the business in a remarkable way.

CNBC: J.Crew and the Man Who Dressed America airs tonight (5/24) at 10p.m. EDT.

Comments on “Mickey Drexler Documentary on CNBC

    JeffVon May 24, 2012 @ 3:44 PM:

    Can’t wait. He’s a legend in the industry and really has his finger on the pulse of what consumers want from their clothing.

    bgon May 24, 2012 @ 7:30 PM:

    You are the master natural “surrogate” and Mickey/JCrew appear to know how to utilize surrogates in a genuinely authentic and effective manner. Just reading your post made me like this guy (i.e., high perceptions of charisma). I teach leadership and he seems to exemplify effective leadership. Thanks for a new class example to use with MBAs. Below is a quote from an academic article I couthored about surrogates, maybe next time I will discuss you instead of Oprah when I am trying to teach this principle.

    Galvin, B. M., Balkundi, P., & Waldman, D. A. 2010. Spreading the word: The role of surrogates in charismatic leadership processes. Academy of Management Review, 35: 477-494.

    “Surrogate behavior is manifested through promoting the leader, defending the leader, and modeling followership.Leader promotion publicizes the accomplishments, positive qualities, and traits of the leader (cf. self-promotion and enhancement; Bolino et al., 2008; Roberts, 2005). Leader promotion largely consists of making positive statements and engaging in positive storytelling about the leader. Stories provide a forum for sharing the symbolic behaviors of the leader (Waldman & Yammarino, 1999) and are easily remembered and passed through the networks (Hatch, Kostera, & Kozminski, 2006). They are likely to include instances of the leader’s overcoming challenges or acting for the greater good of the organization, or high levels of leader performance. Storytelling can spread examples of the leader’s positive actions in supporting and working with an employee, or it can publicize accounts of the leader’s actions that have had a positive impact on the overall organization or that teach important lessons (Hatch et al., 2006).”

    michele colonnaon May 24, 2012 @ 11:27 PM:

    He lost me with the mandolins in Bergamo. I mean, have you ever been to Bergamo?

    GOOGon May 25, 2012 @ 9:24 AM:

    While I cannot argue with the introduction to the “finer threads” of late in the J.Crew lines, it is unfortunate that the guts of the look have become utterly contrived. Flip through the catalog and you are spoon-fed the style that once organically grew around the J.Crew culture; Vans, Red Wings, Chuck Taylors, Rainbows, Timex, Ray Bans, etc. are all for the picking now right off the page. What ever happened to the days of heading out into the void and finding style for yourself? Drexler’s legendary status aside, he’s building an army of cookie cutter prepsters that are diluting the very pulse of traditional USA style. This of course for ACL and myself pertains only to the menswear, as I couldn’t tell the difference between a Jimmy Choo and a $12 Payless pump if you put a Super Soaker to my head. Have a happy Memorial Day!

    Nick Stubbson May 25, 2012 @ 10:06 AM:

    This guy knows exactly what he is doing, he knows exactly what he needs to be successful as well. It is so interesting to me that he realizes a shirt is discontinued and he decides to call around and make the effort to put it back into J. Crews sales. Absolutely glorious

    mr.bondon May 25, 2012 @ 11:10 AM:

    Dude knows his business and thats the way it should be.

    Peteron May 25, 2012 @ 11:55 AM:

    While I haven’t bought anything from JCrew in a while, I definitely admire Drexler (of course, I don’t actually have to WORK for him…).

    I would say, however, that he has a platform for a new kind of production model (i.e., would it kill him to make some of this stuff in America, given that he’s positioning it as “classic American style”?) and he hasn’t yet taken advantage of it.

    Collin Hillon May 25, 2012 @ 2:21 PM:

    This documentary was great. I also agree with Peter – made in Ameica is the next trend and it only makes sense since currencies are all over the place (great ACL post a while back). Why wouldn’t they want to hedge themselves by tying some (not all – Drexler made a good point in the doc about this) of the labor costs back to a reliable currency. Not to mention all the marketing gusto that could come with it.

    I have also had fit issues lately with their selves he denim. A pattern is a pattern is a pattern – not sure how there could be fit issues unless the supply chain isnt being managed correctly.

    In the end though, my wife and I love what they do and it was exciting to get a behind the scenes look. Stop with Timex watches though and Partner with Swatch Group/ Hamilyon to get some affordable ETA movements in there…


    Ming 001on May 25, 2012 @ 3:07 PM:

    Watched the entire special last night. If you knew of Drexler before, it really didn’t add much. But it was interesting to see how he dressed on a regular basis and how much of J. Crew’s style he represented in his everyday wear. Very much a man who was comfortable in his own style. Like the ideal J. Crew man.

    Mike Lucason May 25, 2012 @ 8:26 PM:

    While perhaps successful, I HATE his/their hijacking of other brands as part of J.Crew’s “In Good Company.” To me it is disingenuous and basically screams “we are not good enough so we sell other brands.” It’s like the nerd that tries to associate with the cool kid in an attempt to be cooler. Either stand on the merits of your own brand or get out. I like J. Crew for J Crew. Stop mooching, hijacking or otherwise prostituting other brands. It’s too transparent and distasteful.

    Johnon May 26, 2012 @ 11:17 PM:

    Do what you love and the money will follow.

    Ansibleon May 27, 2012 @ 12:18 AM:

    J. Crew’s like the h&m of #menswear. The construction doesn’t live up to the looks.

    Brooks Brothers manages to sell good quality US-made oxfords for $80, in 3 fits, and with neck/sleeve measurements.

    Also, isn’t Frank Muytjens worth mentioning?

    PKon May 28, 2012 @ 12:30 PM:

    I congratulate Drexler on his and J. Crew’s success, but it’s astonishing to me that he didn’t already know where royal oxford is made. That fact alone undercuts his credibility and suggests to me that quality is not particularly high on his list of priorities.

    martha callison May 28, 2012 @ 4:04 PM:

    I would like very much to send a letter to Mr. Drexler concerning clothing for women 60 and over. No one has designed anything for our generation, everything seems to be for young people. Now that most of us no long have the responsibility of taking care of children we finally have the money to spend on new clothes. I am 73, have maintained my figure, work out at the gym and love to dress nicely but I rarely ever buy clothes anymore. I talk to women all over who are saying the same thing. I have the money but refuse to spend it on the clothes that are in our retail stores today. If someone could tell me how I could get this across to our designers, I would appreciate it. Women our age are wearing old clothes that we have saved because we think the clothes on the racks today are “ugly” and everything looks the same.
    Thank you.

    Zak Gibsonon May 28, 2012 @ 10:10 PM:

    Would really love to see this dock. However, I’m in New Zealand. Does anyone know of where you can watch it online?


    Sarahon May 31, 2012 @ 5:55 PM:

    Enjoyed the video. Thomas Mason & the Albini group do some excellent fabrics.

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