J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler

J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler. Photo courtesy of J. Crew

J. Crew is expanding its Internet business into Canada and the U.K.

But after that, the company's chairman and CEO Millard "Mickey" Drexler has no desire to get much bigger.

"Bigger is not better -- better is always better," Drexler explained. "It's not a matter of what's been, but what will be. We could get bigger, could get faster and open a couple more factory stores, but we don't want to. There's no race -- the race is to maintain the integrity of the product."

Drexler was part of panel presentation at the Financo annual merchandising industry chief executive event Monday at New York City's Harmonie Club on the Upper East Side.

The retail industry is always changing, and now is not an exception, if anything, it's moving faster, Drexler said. "When I started at Ann Taylor in 1980, August Max was our main competitor. Now, three-quarters of the companies we competed with are not around."

He continued, "When I started a the Gap, County Seat was our number one competitor. Now, most of the people I work with have never heard of Country Seat.

"The world is always changing -- in my opinion, things are changing faster than ever. The past year was a big wake-up call. It's survival of the fittest. Most retail and fashion companies will not be around in 20 years."

Sir Philip Green, owner of the Arcadia Group, parent company of Topshop is also thinking expansion. The company, which has one U.S. location in New York's SoHo, plans on ultimately operating up to 18 "flagship" stores in the U.S., Green said, "but that means I have to figure out the difference between trousers and pants," he added.

Green relayed that he was reminded of a funny meeting when he realized that Sunday was "No Pants Day" in New York, which to him meant a lot of missing undergarments.

"One day I turned up at a meeting with Gilbert [Harrison] and I asked if he minded if I took off my trousers." Harrison was surprised, but Green explained: "I had split my pants and I wanted his seamstress to fix them while I met with him. I asked him if he minded having our meeting while I was only in my pants."

Harrison, shared that he was embarrassed, and mildly uncomfortable about what he'd potentially see. "I didn't get up from the table the whole meeting," Harrison admitted.

Then the bawdy Green brought the audience into it. "Gilbert mentioned there are a number of mall people here. You're used to taking your trousers down then," he said to much guffawing.

In other retail news, this department store giant is downsizing.