When Levine came in, he and the Madewell team immediately got to work tweaking the brand’s staples. “There are these overarching tenets of great tees, great fleece, great denim,” he said. The task was not to modernize but to “relevantize” these best-sellers, Levine said, inventing his own version of Bobby Flay’s Crunchify™. The team especially tinkered with the fleece, relaxing the fit and upgrading the fabric. And when customers responded well to it, Madewell started offering a T-shirt with a similarly chill silhouette. “I’m trying to avoid saying it’s ‘made well’ because I don’t wanna be kitschy,” Levine said, “but it’s made beautifully.” New brand name?
We love to see mall brands succeed because they help make good style accessible. (Levine, for the record, hates the term mall brand and finds it reductive. Sorry.) Sneaking hints of capital-F fashion into your local Westfield is a way of mainstreaming those ideas. This is the type of work that thrills Levine. “[Runway fashion] applies to very few people,” Levine told me in 2018. “It’s more important to relate to a customer and to a normal dude.” So, normal dudes, rejoice—and maybe bookmark Madewell’s website.