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J.Crew CEO lays out her comeback plan

June 30, 2021, 12:33 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Serena Williams exits Wimbledon, Olympian moms have to make a tough choice, and J.Crew’s CEO has a big challenge ahead of her. Have a good Wednesday.

– Call it a comeback.  Do you have a J.Crew breakup story? Libby Wadle, CEO of the retailer’s parent company, bets you do.

“Everyone has a J.Crew love story, but more and more people, I think, have had a J.Crew breakup story. They want to find that love connection again,” she said.

Wadle took over as CEO of the $2.5 billion J.Crew Group in November, just after the company emerged from bankruptcy protection. In her first in-depth interview since becoming chief executive, the 48-year-old told Fortune‘s Phil Wahba her plan for reviving the company after Chapter 11, steadying the C-suite after years of turnover, and satisfying shoppers in the post-pandemic era. (Clothing sales overall are already starting to come back.)

“At the end of the day for J.Crew, it’s going to be about great product, great storytelling, and great design, and really getting that energy back in the brand,” she says.

She wants to return J.Crew to its “casual roots,” but she’s also injected it with some new blood. She named Brendon Babenzien, a key force behind the ascent of ultra-cool street-wear label Supreme, as head of J.Crew men’s business.

Wadle is well-suited to tackle one of the tougher jobs in retail. She spent three years as CEO of J.Crew’s denim-focused and wildly successful Madewell brand, and so knows “where all the bones were buried,” as Phil reports.

“I do understand the fundamentals of the business; that’s helpful,” says Wadle. “I’ve been through a lot of it, and you don’t have that knee-jerk leadership that tends to happen sometimes.”

You can read Phil’s full story here.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Mayoral chaos. As New York City tallied ranked-choice ballots in its mayoral race, candidate Kathryn Garcia seemed to be holding in second place against leader Eric Adams with 49% of the vote to his 51%. But the race was thrown into chaos last night after the NYC board of elections revealed it had accidentally tabulated more than 100,000 sample ballots. New York Times

- An Olympic choice. An Olympic spokesperson says it's still unlikely that athletes will be able to bring "unaccredited people from overseas" with them to the Games. For right now, that includes children—even the young children and infants of athletes who are breastfeeding moms. Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher has said she's "being forced to decide between being a breastfeeding mom or an Olympic athlete." Yahoo Sports

- First cover. First Lady Jill Biden is on the cover of Vogue, continuing a tradition that Vogue paused during the Trump era. The profile follows Dr. Biden's journey as an educator, traveling across the country representing the Biden administration and still grading papers on planes. Vogue

- Emotional exit. Serena Williams retired from a first-round match at Wimbledon yesterday after seeming to suffer an injury to her right leg. It's only the second time in the tennis star's career that she's ever retired from a match at a major tournament, and she fought back tears as she left the court. ESPN

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Tanya Snyder, wife of team owner Dan Snyder, will become a co-CEO of the Washington football team. Clearwater Analytics hired Susan Ganeshan as CMO. Anne M. Termine, a former chief trial attorney at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, joins Bracewell LLP as a partner in the government enforcement and investigations practice. Marcie Vu, former head of the consumer technology group at Qatalyst Partners, joins the Scopely board of directors. Valtech hired Sheree Atcheson as global director of diversity and inclusion. Gong named Wendy Harris VP of EMEA.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Tenure vote. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s board of trustees is scheduled to meet today. The board is expected to discuss or vote on journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones's tenure appointment. Following a controversy over interference in the typical tenured position process, Hannah-Jones has said that she won't accept a role without tenure. She's gained the support of many following the saga, including from Black women in academia. Washington Post

- Mix and match. Around the world, some people are receiving a mix of COVID vaccines, whether because of a shortage of one variety or to provide a second dose when there have been pauses, like during worries over AstraZeneca and blood clots. German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself received two different vaccines—first AstraZeneca, then Moderna. BBC 

- Electric future. At the Aspen Ideas Festival yesterday, GM CEO Mary Barra announced the creation of a $25 million Climate Equity Fund. The fund is intended to help broaden the use of electric vehicles beyond owners who have money, time, and space to charge them at home and to create programs to support communities most affected by climate change. Detroit Free Press

ON MY RADAR

Ariana Grande is providing $1 million worth of free therapy Elle

Wimbledon ditches traditional gender distinction over players’ towels Guardian

Combating burnout as a single working parent Harvard Business Review

PARTING WORDS

"I know what it’s like to be left out. I know what it’s like to be blocked out."

-Janice McLean DeLoatch on why she launched the Women Songwriters Hall of Fame. The organization inducted its first class of honorees this month. 

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