The news that Patrick Robinson was fired last week from the Gap was not that shocking. The Gap has had a few cute moments since Patrick arrived on the scene, but consistency was lacking. You don't need me to ramble on and on about what did not work during his reign, but I am happy to suggest a few key bits that should be taken under serious consideration if they really want to revitalize the brand. First things first let us identify the key times that we "fall into the Gap" with full intention, because Lord knows, when you are just browsing, the Gap is not the first stop.
- You are on vacation and the weather is not quite what you hoped and are a few layers short. Off to the nearest Gap.
- You are in the Hamptons for the weekend and decide to stay a few extra days because the annoying housemates are going back to the city and you are self-employed and have no reason to go back with them. Off to the Gap to get more underwear.
- You see the holiday Gap ad campaign featuring your favorite rising actor/actress/singer, then tip into the Gap, then tip out. Reason? That snowflake sweater looked better on Ryan Kwanten, Tweet and Selma Blair than it did on you. Actually, it made you look fat.
- You are doing the dreaded spring cleaning and notice that most of the pieces going to the maid are Gap basics that did not hold up after several washes.
You get my point. With Uniqlo happening as fiercely as it is, Gap needs to really step up their game. Besides, the Gap really missed the Target mark of featuring designer capsule collections as opposed to just launching a series of white shirts by up-and-coming designers. Though that initiative was fierce, it was not sustained. They could have done that for every key basic. The Gap needs to think of a fresh way to do these limited collections because it works and drives traffic to the stores with each launch. When the Gap wasted all their time and energy on redesigning the logo, they got caught like a dear in the headlights in the brand marketing quagmire. Who cared? Enough already with brand this and brand that. Brand speak is exhausting and (B) does not always work. Looking at the old logo (above) with that cool design element is enough for me to see that if anything, they should have revived that look, not literally but the idea.
The Gap rose to prominence by dressing the free-spirited youth market of the late '60s & '70s. They embraced the hippies or vice versa and became part of that culture. Selling records and Levi's? Come on, it was one step away from a head shop. Now, they are trapped trying to keep up with fashionistas and there is no fickler group and no brand loyalty there. Chasing that demographic will leave you high and dry every time, like a bad date. You meet, have a drink, don't really know what the other person is thinking, trick and never hear from them again. Anyhoo, my suggestions are:
- Do a huge Made in America initiative. Become a strong voice for creating jobs in the USA.
- Make a deal with MAC & MILK and create a fashion incubator with the participating designers. Gap would feature a capsule collections with winners that get selected by a panel of editors and bloggers working with the Gap.
- Or, if not that group, work with the CFDA Award nominees and winners to achieve same program. Redo the stores with a fresh, youthful hang out-ier look and vibe. An environmental experience rather than clean lines.
- Redo the advertising to be more editorial looking but do NOT hire Terry Richardson.
- Create tumblr pages where you can upload pictures of you and your friends when they come into the store.
- Create a contest in association with the tumblr page. Best image becomes an ad in either Nylon or Interview magazine.
- Have on-site embellishing and styling clinics.
How cool is this? Though it would not work today, but it captures that time really well.
Come on. That is fierce.
Do I get the job?