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Ahead of its IPO, Madewell wants to dominate men’s closets, too

J.Crew’s breakout women’s denim brand is launching cashmere, corduroy, and jeans for men.

Ahead of its IPO, Madewell wants to dominate men’s closets, too
[Photo: courtesy of Madewell]

Shoppers strolling past a new Madewell pop-up shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, might notice something a little different in the window: men’s clothes, and only men’s clothes.

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J.Crew’s breakout (and soon to break away) women’s clothing brand Madewell has been pushing its way into menswear for the past year. The brand debuted a denim-focused men’s line last fall and is now launching a seasonal collection of carpenter pants, athletic-fit jeans, and outerwear in brick and mortar locations, as well as online. For the once women’s-only brand, it’s a natural transition.

“We’ve had people ask about when we’d get into men’s since we opened,” says Joyce Lee, Madewell’s head of design. “It was a logical next step for us. We saw the need in the men’s market for pieces that were highly considered but made to be worn every day, specifically when it came to denim. Since denim has always been at the core of everything we do, it was a no-brainer for us to play in the men’s space.”

The first men’s collection, which was rolled out last September, was launched after two years of incubation, research, and design. Since then, Lee says, the brand has refined its point of view to focus on men’s basics that have the ability to look (and feel) special. “After listening to a year’s worth of feedback from our customers [on the] initial collection, our team has been able to really perfect this line,” Lee says. “The result is a collection that further articulates our perspective on what men’s wardrobes should include—easy pieces that aren’t boring and stand out.”

[Photo: courtesy of Madewell]
Those standout pieces include a quilted puffy coat (that can be packed into a travel pillow), a 100% cashmere sweater for less than $150, and an all-new jean cut: athletic slim (i.e., a slim fit that works for guys with muscular legs).

Attention to individual fit is a priority for Lee. “We never design with just one person in mind,” she says. “In order to nail the fit and ensure performance of our pieces, the team focused on developing the right fabric technology to build the collection around.” Eventually, her team arrived at four key fits for men: skinny, slim, straight, and athletic slim.

The fall collection also includes super-soft flannels (that look more like put-together button-downs), a sharp, all-black sherpa-lined jean jacket, and classic corduroy pants.

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For men, it’s a chance to experience Madewell for themselves. For the Madewell team, it’s a chance to fill a potentially lucrative gap in the market. “There’s a real need in the men’s market for premium product at an accessible price,” says Lee.

You can shop both the men’s and women’s fall collection now on the Madewell website.

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