J. Crew. It is one of the most popular clothing retailers in America today. Home to the iconic style of Jackie Kennedy and Michelle Obama, J. Crew was not always the fashion visionary that it is today. Yes, like all stores, J. Crew has a beginning. It has a story.
In 1947, Mitchell Cinader and Saul Charles founded Popular Merchandise Inc. Operating as Popular Club Plan, Popular Merchandise sold low-price clothing to women through house parties and in-home demonstrations, much like Mary Kay or Pampered Chef parties.
Eventually, the company was passed on to Cinader's son, Arthur. In 1983, Arthur Cinader made the decision to begin issuing a catalogue for the company. The new catalogue clothing line was named J. Crew to give the brand a preppy, upper-class feel. Much like the Popular Club Plan, J. Crew wanted to provide high-quality, modern clothing at an affordable price.
Throughout the '80s, J. Crew’s sales skyrocketed. However, the company did not always run so smoothly on the inside. Both Mitchell and Emily Cinader were difficult to work with, the company had a high employee turnover rate, and in 1987 two important executives left to start their own company, Tweeds.
While Tweeds found great success, J. Crew began to struggle. To expand the customer base, the first retail store was opened in March of 1989 in Manhattan. J. Crew continued to expand into Canada, Japan, and Europe. However, their current CEO had previously worked in the frozen foods business, and J. Crew's iconic style was suffering.
In 2003 Millard “Mickey” Drexler joined the company as CEO and began pushing quality and service above and beyond previous expectations. He transformed J. Crew into the retail giant that they are now. Today, J. Crew has retail stores across the nation and an expanding catalogue and online business.
What do you think about J. Crew? Where are they on your top 10 list of retailers?