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November 26, 2008

J. Crew's Madewell Brings Back Depression-Era Brand Naming

Surprisingly, in the midst of a looming recession, Mickey Drexler, J. Crew's CEO, has made the decision to position the new Madewell brand name to appeal to younger, edgier customers.

madewelllogo.gifDrexler bought the Madewell brand and typography from a defunct clothing mill in New Bedford (Madewell Manufacturing Co., which closed in 1989). With a brand name from the past, the new line is designed to have a retro quality that will appeal to the savvy shopper looking for clothes that are simply "made well."

I was also intrigued to see that Drexler actually bought the name after leaving Gap and then leased it to J. Crew for one dollar when he joined them in 2003.

I see that many sites refer to the company as Madewell 1937 (can't help but note the depression-era date attached to the name), which part of the brand's URL.

Customers seem enthusiastic about the new brand, with one saying "Madewell 1937 is to J. Crew what the Gap is to Banana Republic," at least in terms of pricing for designer brands.

The product naming offered by Madewell also fits with Dexler's hip and eye catching positioning with names like High Line knits, Hawke fleece, and New Haven chinos.

madewellgirl.gifMadewell even has its own facebook page which is clearly aimed at the high school and college female demographic as displayed by their "denim dedicated" events like Denim After Dark.

I always like to see a good name come out of retirement and I find it interesting that one that hearkens back to a tough era in our past is gaining traction so quickly.

Another point of interest is that the savvy Drexler may work for J. Crew, but he owns this particular brand name. With the current state of the economy, customers will be looking more for quality, reliability and heritage in their brand names more than ever before. If quality truly is the key factor in today's market, Drexler may have found another winner with Madewell.

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Posted by William Lozito at November 26, 2008 10:05 AM
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