I covered this briefly today in my very first (and second) GabCast shows, but I love rehashing points I’ve already made. Like this one: yes, I do live webcasting now – check out my show at 11am and 4pm, PST Monday through Friday!
The big fashion news last week was that The Gap fired their design chief Patrick Robinson. The Gap has been struggling for years, and bringing in Robinson in 2007 was part of an attempt at resuscitating the brand. If you haven’t bothered to step foot in a Gap in the last three years, then you know how that worked out.
According to the New York Times article,
Analysts said the problem on the design side seems to be twofold.
The colors that Mr. Robinson seems to prefer are muted — Gap’s stores now, for instance, are filled with peaches and grays, while competitors are going for saturated jewel tones.
Also, the timing of when it brings clothing has been an issue. While Gap has had moderate success with items like its 1969 jeans, other styles hit at the wrong time.
Gap introduced skinny-leg cargo pants, for instance, in early 2010. “But they were early on the trend, early in the year, and when the trend peaked they weren’t there as much,” Ms. Tennant said.
I’ve written a few times about the Gap’s problems – or, as I’ve affectionately named it, “The Gap Conundrum.” While I don’t disagree with the Times’ analysis – looking through the site, almost everything the Gap is selling right now is beige – I think they’re missing the point.
I’ve mentioned before that the fit always looks terrible. Beyond that, their window displays are uninspiring at best. Nothing about the windows of the brick and mortar store make me want to actually go in and look at their products. Nothing about the look of the clothes online makes me want to pay the shipping costs.
They’re absolutely right about the lack of color; looking through the site you mostly see beige, cream, white, and khaki. Given that the Pantone colors for the spring and fall are anything but neutral, this is a pretty major problem.
I could go into more detail, but I think I’ve found one item that really sums up my problems with The Gap.
I know I went to the polygamist well the other week with the ModCloth Square Dancing Dress, but at least then the hemline was above the knee. Not only is this a denim maxi dress, in their product description Gap makes sure to stress that the hemline “hits below the ankles.” Because heavens knows, you wouldn’t want to expose your ankles and inflame the desires of the menfolk.
I mean, really, Gap? You guys were looking for something to set your brand apart, and you thought the key was Polygamist Chic? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but it just seems like a very limited market share.
Like a middle-aged man wearing his high school letterman jacket in a desperate attempt to return to the heyday of his youth, so too is the Gap attempting to return to the days when their brand was more than just an afterthought.
But the truth is, watching a middle aged jock publicly struggle with his midlife crisis is uncomfortable and a little embarrassing. Likewise, watching the Gap flail aimlessly in desperate attempts at “redefining their brand” – it just makes me want to sit them down with a cup of hot cocoa and pat them on the back while telling them that they’re special snowflakes and they don’t need to try so hard to get people to like them.
It’s not that hard of a concept, is it? Make basics. Make good basics. Make bright, colorful basics. Make bright, colorful basics that fit. Don’t sell denim overall maxi dresses. Plenty of other stores manage to do this. J.Crew manages. Ann Taylor manages. Forever 21 manages. Even Old Navy manages, and you guys are owned by the same company and their cuts and sizing are totally erratic.
Seriously you guys, it’s getting frustrating. You’re the Gap. It’s not that hard to figure out who you are or what you’re supposed to be selling. No one’s asking that you reinvent the khaki, just make some good freaking khakis.
And stop trying to make overall denim maxi dresses happen. Even if you could manage to make them happen … is that really a world you want to live in?