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Madewell’s Recipe for Retailing Success

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Madewell, the J.Crew sister brand, is dealing a blow to the dominance of the fast fashion retailing concept, proving that heritage and quality also are important to consumers. Retail data company Edited released a report on the brand, which shows that by sticking to the classics, Madewell has flourished.

Mickey Drexler purchased Madewell in 2006, and sales rose 23 percent to $301 million in 2015, with comparable sales up 8 percent, Edited reported.

The brand is small, with a tight offering, which makes it quicker on its toes. Madewell only carries womenswear, and stocks a smaller product assortment than J.Crew, which carries six times as many items. This focus on a strong core also has allowed the brand to plan a scale down on discounting, Edited said.

In particular, the brand’s focus on denim, chambray and quirky jewelry makes its items more reliably popular and less subject to trends. With its denim, the brand keeps an emphasis on quality with pricing that actually exceeds J.Crew. Edited reported that the median price on denim at Madewell is $137, out-pricing comparable denim brands like Topshop at $74 and Levi’s at $129.

Madewell’s success reflects the consumer’s continuing desire for quality and heritage. For 69 years prior to Drexler’s purchase, Madewell was a family-owned workwear brand based out of New Bedford, Mass.

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