A Whole New Crew

A down-on-its-luck retailer and an out-of-work merchant fashion a joint comeback. How Mickey Drexler erased the gap in his rèsumè

Jason Tanaka Blaney for TIME

Mickey Drexler, chairman and CEO of J. Crew, sits in a window display set-up inside J.Crew's headquarters in New York City on February 15, 2007.

Even when he's 3,000 miles away, there's no escape from Mickey Drexler in the halls of J. Crew headquarters. A few weeks ago, the ceo of the retailer known for its mail-order catalog and preppy style was visiting a store in Palo Alto, Calif., when he got a rave review from its manager about the latest shipment of clothes. This, Drexler felt, all 550 employees at the company's New York City office needed to know immediately, so he called HQ and got patched into the p.a. system. "We just gotta keep doing it," the boss's voice boomed through hallways lined with...

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