BUSINESS OF FASHION: GAP BIDS FAREWELL TO CREATIVE DIRECTOR. . . AND OLD IDENTITY
Former casual-wear denim monarch of the ’90s, Gap encounters a challenging marketplace in recent years. Parting with its lauded creative director Danish designer Rebekka Bay, the company has gone so far as to cut her position altogether.
Bay’s delicate, minimalist style was her trademark and success at Cos and with Gap until she was booted. Her vision was illustrated in her belted, crisp white pleated shirt dresses and feather-light paneled tops paired with super sleek blazers. But when she channeled the same sort of collection at Gap in 2012 upon employment, the already flagging sales continued to descend: they dropped 5% in December — more than the 3.8% prediction by analysts.
But the problem may not so much be a design problem as an identity issue. Gap has a history of darting between its tried-and-true button down aesthetic and high fashion, such as when it hired Céline’s Phoebe Philo circa 2007 as a consultant.
Plus, many brands have further mastered what made Gap famous in the 90s.
“The problem is that so many of the things Gap was once famous for are now delivered better elsewhere,” says Hannah Marriott of the Guardian. “Well-priced cashmere jumpers, sporty sweatshirts and padded jackets are booming at Uniqlo. That preppy Upper East Side raincoat look is owned by Gap’s own sister brand Banana Republic. Zara has the catwalk copies covered. Denim is such a huge fashion consideration – seen everywhere from Topshop to Cheap Mondays – that it cannot be claimed by Gap as it once was.
There will no longer be a single creative vision at the helm of Gap, leaving the aesthetic future of the company to a “senior” design team.
Images via Gap