Under the guidance of Libby Wadle, Madewell is becoming a go-to denim brand for millennial-age women.
Libby Wadle is determined to get shoppers everywhere to think of Madewell when they think of jeans. Now president of what’s been called J.Crew’s little sister concept, Wadle was there at the start in 2004—and now she’s back after a seven-year stint at the mothership.
While she admits that Madewell went through a few iterations before finding its current, hugely successful identity, she’s said the journey was necessary. But now the chain has firmly found its footing. And why denim? Simple. She couldn’t think of a better way to create buzz. “When you find a great pair of pants or a great pair of jeans that fit you really, really well you want to tell people about it. You ask people when you see a great pair of jeans on them, “Where’d you get those? You look terrific,” she said during a recent Glossy podcast. “So just having that conversation start is super important for the business in terms of growth and awareness for the brand.”
That desire to have Madewell on everyone’s lips led Wadle to focus on jeans as her first order of business when she became president last year. “We really tried to create a real energy around our denim business and build around that,” she said.
Thus far, it seems the strategy was a good one. Madewell posted a 29 percent increase in sales in the second quarter of 2018. The company also reported comp sales were up 28 percent during the period, over a 12 percent increase during the prior-year period. The performance was aided by “explosive growth in digital” along with “outsized” growth in denim, knits and shirts, according to CFO Vincent Zanna.
CEO Jim Brett said Madewell is “solidly on path to becoming a $1 billion brand.” Looking ahead, the company is launching men’s as well as a marketplace to showcase both new and existing brands.