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Can Madewell Shops Help J.Crew Get its Cool Cred Back?

J.Crew is debuting Madewell shop-in-shops in six locations.

J.Crew is welcoming its denim-heavy little sister brand into six stores starting this month. The Madewell shops will open in New York’s Columbus Circle, two locations in Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire and Connecticut, according to Racked. They will feature denim bars and assortments designed to work back to the J.Crew apparel.

While mall-based stores have struggled, Madewell has been a bright spot for J.Crew. As the namesake brand has grappled with product missteps and waning appeal, Madewell continues to grow a loyal fan base.

Madewell, which operated 121 stores as of November, saw comp store sales increase by 11 percent in the first nine months of FY17, while the 269-location J.Crew chain had the opposite fate with an 11-percent decline in same store sales during the period.

CEO Jim Brett has said the company is trying to “reinvigorate” the flagship brand while also continuing the strong momentum for the sister nameplate.

Madewell’s positive performance during the holidays even garnered it a shoutout during Taubman Centers’ latest earnings call along with other notables like Aerie and Athleta.

Prior to the new J.Crew shops, Madewell was only being offered in its own stores as well as Nordstrom, where it’s been sold in an increasing number of doors and online since March 2015.

The brand continues to be in step with the latest trends, recently announcing extended sizes to accommodate more shoppers.

J.Crew’s struggles have been well documented over the las few years. As has been the case for several retailers like Gymboree and Neiman Marcus, J.Crew’ financial issues stem from a leveraged buyout. The company was purchased for $3 billion 2011 by private equity firms TPG Capital LP and Leonard Green & Partners LP.

In the last year, J.Crew has faced layoffs, price cuts and store closures. Long time CEO Mickey Drexler admitted in May that the company was blindsided by how quickly technology transformed the industry. One month later he announced he was stepping down. His exit was preceded by president and executive creative director Jenna Lyons’ departure in April.