The Gap’s Fast-Track to Irrelevance

Despite helping to develop the Gap’s 1969 premium denim line, the company’s vice president of design, Patrick Robinson, was dropped last week. Considering the brand is in the midst of a design-team reform, the news hardly came as a surprise, but we still think that 1969 was one of the best ideas to come out of Gap in years. So what’s next for this fading American brand?

A new story by Jezebel’s Abe Gurko breaks down Gap’s swift decline, pointing out the rare, rather pathetic occasions during which you might actually step into a Gap store. “You are on vacation and the weather is not quite what you hoped and you are a few layers short. Off to the nearest Gap,” he writes. Furthermore, although they’re a workhorse for basics, Gap’s cuts aren’t as flattering as those of, say, H&M or Uniqlo.

Speaking of fast-fashion brands, H&M’s wildly successful designer collaborations should spur Gap to roll out similar initiatives. Remember how hyped we all were after the Alexander Wang, Vena Cava, and Pierre Hardy collabs? A full capsule collection with a fresh, emerging designer might be just the creative boost they need. Maybe that lucky designer could even help Gap with their image.

After last year’s attempt to update their logo, Gap devotees came out of the woodwork to protest the change, forcing the brand to rather embarrassingly revert back to their old lettering. As Alisa Gould-Simon explained then, the seemingly ill-advised move was actually genius, as it made the brand relevant again by proving that they still have fans who care about their image. But despite their efforts to pull fast-ones just to stay in the news, there’s no denying that their identity needs a refresh. Gurko suggests they give their advertising a more editorial feel (“but do NOT hire Terry Richardson”). He also thinks they should build a marketing campaign around the fact that their designs are Made in America in order to “become a strong voice for creating jobs in the USA.”

Regardless of which route they take, Gap is in dire need of a new concept, and we’re hoping a new creative director will help them get there. Too bad Clare Waight Keller has already been snatched up–she kills it at this rebranding stuff.

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