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Mickey Drexler: The death of a supply-driven world

Take a closer look at what the digital world has given us in the form of "Supply Transparency." It's a quiet little market shift that is mind blowing, paradigm shifting, market disrupting concept that sounds like a flux capacitor…ok maybe that's a little too much, but it is big…

J.Crew’s Mickey Drexler Confesses: I Underestimated How Tech Would Upend Retail read the headline of a big feature in the Wall Street Journal, which ricocheted around the retail and technology world last week. The piece highlighted J.Crew’s struggles under Drexler’s leadership, which has resulted in ten consecutive quarters of falling sales.

J.Crew has made many mistakes over the past few years while Drexler was at the helm, mainly around overpricing its products and slowly adopting table-stakes technology. Drexler admitted this much in the article. “I’ve never seen the speed of change as it is today,” Drexler said. “If I could go back 10 years, I might have done some things earlier.”

Yet the struggles of J.Crew, Gap, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Apparel and many others go beyond the simple explanation that they missed the impact of technology or a specific trend. Instead, these merchandising-driven brands are caught in the middle of one of the most profound but little talked about shifts in the retail and apparel space: the shift from a supply-driven world to a demand-driven world, and the cultural change needed to thrive today.

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