James (Jim) Brett is the CEO of J Crew, the iconic American fashion brand launched in 1983 as a mail order catalogue, which then became a cultural reference point. Six years later, the J Crew flagship store opened in Lower Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, an early example of modern urban place making, and today there are over 500 locations throughout the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, London, and Paris (including those under the J Crew factory and Madewell banners).
Prior to his role at J Crew, Brett was President of West Elm, bringing that startup homeware retailer to a billion dollar brand with seven consecutive years of double-digit comparable revenue growth. In 2015, he launched West Elm Workspace, solution-oriented work place furniture mixing residential aesthetic with commercial durability, winner of that year’s “Best of NeoCon” award, and in 2016, initiated the development of West Elm Hotels, a collection of hospitality venues, each reflecting the culture and architectural heritage of its community, opening 2019.
An advocate for the preservation of traditional handicraft and the power of collaborations, Brett spent six and a half years with Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters, Inc, first as merchandise manager for the multi-channel subsidiary Anthropologie, creating the sophisticated brand identity and merchandise mix that is Anthropologie Home today, and then as Chief Merchandising Officer for the diverse Urban Outfitters brand, generating record sales and productivity despite a challenging retail environment. In addition, Brett has served in various merchandising roles with other leading retailers during his twenty-five year career, including the J.C. Penny Corporation, Inc. and May Company Department Stores.
Brett, who is on the advisory board of Nest, a non-profit organization helping artisans sustainably develop their businesses, is active in the Dumbo Improvement District, revitalization advocacy for one of New York’s earliest industrial neighborhoods, and was the largest individual fundraiser for the 2015, 20016, and 2017 AIDS Walk NYC. He makes his home in Brooklyn, NY.