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J.Crew Dismissed Its Women's Designer and Hired Madewell's

The retailer is also eliminating 175 jobs in its corporate offices.
Models at J.Crew's spring presentation. Photo: Albert Urso/Getty Images

Models at J.Crew's spring presentation. Photo: Albert Urso/Getty Images

For the last few seasons, the story at J.Crew has been the same: While the flagship brand watches its sales slump, thanks in part to design and merchandising mistakes in its womenswear business, its little sister label Madewell is on fire. Last quarter alone, its sales shot up 33 percent. 

Now, it seems, the company is sending a little bit of that pixie dust back to J.Crew. On Wednesday, the company announced that Madewell's head of design, Somsack Sikhounmuong, has been named the head of women's design at J.Crew, effective immediately. Joyce Lee, who has worked at Madewell for the last seven years, will be stepping into Sikhounmuong's role. 

As the tagline for Madewell's fall 2015 presentation read: "Switch the context; change the story." And J.Crew could sure use a new narrative right now.

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While the appointment is a pretty exciting moment for the company — the fact that Sikhounmuong worked at J.Crew from 2001 to 2012 notwithstanding — it comes with some not-so-great news. Tom Mora, who led women's at J.Crew since 2011, is leaving the company, and he's not the only one. In an effort to reduce overall expenses, J.Crew is eliminating 175 "open and filled" full-time positions, largely in its corporate headquarters. How many people will wind up losing their jobs isn't yet clear.