Monthly Archives: September 2010

> Can’t complain about your butt in denim around me. Just threw the perfect skinny jean to random gi

butttherapist TWITTER via blackberry the day before FNO!bergies

GAP…continued; are they finished?

gapOh… Gap; as I promised- I have completed your fit test and a complementary secret shop. The last question I asked before my {To be continued…} “Do Gap jeans fit better than Paige Premium Denim?” Let’s back up here… you may be wondering why I would ask such a question. The latest Gap ad reads “The BEST fitting premium denim” While narrowing down “who” Gap is truly competing with I have already eliminated 12-25 age demographic. Therefore, the main competitor for “mom” jeans and “all about the fit (butt) jeans” is Paige Premium Denim. When you are paying special attention to what your butt looks like in a pair of jeans more so than the novelty of the pocket design. If so, than Paige Jeans are for you- I’d suggest the Skyline or the Laurel Canon. If you are wearing “mom” jeans please go to your local denim shop and try on a pair of Paige Hidden Hills or Rising Glen; I promise your toosh will never have looked so good! I have to say that across the board with regard to pocket placement and fit. Paige Premium Denim has the best fit for the American woman; that in return gives “her” the greatest value- bottom-line.

So, this article did not queue while I was in Europe; my apologies, but as you continue reading you’ll understand why I have deemed it a fortunate accident.  I went to one of my local Gap stores and put their denim to the fit test but I couldn’t help but take notes as I was forced to do a secret shop. Re-branding Gap and dumping tons of cash into developing a denim collection with the intention to compete in the premium denim market you cannot ignore your store experience. Even if you get your customer in the door- they must stay long enough to try something on and ideally you’d like them to come back again and again.

SECRET SHOP: I visited the Washington Square location in Portland, Oregon. Walking through the double doors to NO music, the volume was so low that I had to stop and strain to hear a slight rumble of tunes. There was no one in the front rooms in men’s or women’s. Obviously, I was not greeted and management is not worried that anyone is going to steal anything. I pulled one style of every jean in 2 sizes; still not a single associate acknowledged my presence. I walked into the next room where there was one associate at the register with 7 people in line. One frustrated gal set down her 3 shirts on the closest table and left. You can be rest assured that she didn’t really like them anyway but Gap missed out on an impulse purchase.

Who’s in the store: I saw new mom’s with strollers trying to navigate between the tables, a couple 20 year olds that are having some style issues, and there were some 10-12 year olds that were being drug by their mothers for back to school shopping. These kids were not excited about shopping; was it shopping at the Gap, shopping with mom, or just a lack of interaction? They are all easy fixes but they are intentional fixes that require store experience to become the focus of your store management training. Based on who I have seen in your stores in Oregon, California and New York I would suggest a play area for little tikes so new mom’s can shop in a fragment of peace. You have to decide who YOU are and your specific demographic will find you! I can’t wait for the Pastis story!!!!!

Continuing through to the back room an associate talking on a headset walked right by me not even making eye contact- I tried. I grabbed the next associates attention and asked them where the fitting rooms were. She pointed to the right and said back there; remember my arms are full of denim. I walked to the fitting rooms finding my own fitting room and begun putting your butt to the test. About 15 minutes into the process and having a customer take pictures of my butt in Gap jeans… a sales associate said “hi” and even took one of the pictures. She wasn’t that good of a photographer so, I continued using the customer for her camera phone skills. She was shopping with the gal across from me that was near wit’s end on finding a new pair of jeans after just having a child and being able to update a little.

1-     The Long & Lean: is a mid-rise trouser leg jean priced at $69.50 and runs 2 sizes big. It is most comparable to the Seven 4 all mankind Charlize. The leg line is good and quite clean however; the toosh could use a little bit of work through the yolk.

2-     The Curvy: The dark wash is really good however for being the “curvy” fit you’d think it would have more than 1% stretch… most comparable to the 7 for all mankind Kimmie. I went down one size even with the 1% stretch. The leg line is slimming with the slim boot cut makes for a leaner leg. The rear pockets are still a bit far a part to really create the butt for the curvy toosh. I don’t think it warrants the $69.50 price tag.

3-    The legging Jean: everything about this jean contradicts except that it runs true to size. Priced at $69.50 this should be priced at $49.50 in your pricing structure by comparison to other denim companies and the price point of their “legging denim”.  The legging jean should just go to being a jegging and increase the amount of stretch- The knee placement is correct however, the crinkle wash is UNFORGIVING on the butt and the back of the thigh. When a gal goes for the super tight jean the last thing she wants is the back of the thighs highlighted. The photograph looks like I have headlights on my rear! Jbrand, Pur, Paige’s Verdugo and Seven 4 all mankind’s Skinny “skin” have the best jeggins on the market that I have come across.

4-     Forever Skinny: Mid-rise at $59.50 was one of my most favorable as it has great potential to be their number one skinny body. I was truly expecting this to be my personal favorite. I had to go down 1 size- but again, I was very disappointed when I turned around. The pockets are further apart then Seven 4 all mankind and 7FAM pockets are almost too far apart for most women. Paige skyline the 7FAM’s Roxanne, Diesel Matic, and the Hudson straight are both a better overall fit. However, all you have do adjust the pocket placement.

5-     Sexy Boot: My favorite jean from the front! 1% stretch is the way to my personal heart. Retailing at $59.50 it reminds me of my classic favorites and very overly loved Paige Laurel Canyon and classic boot from Citizen. Even with a good front and a clean leg line it is all lost and the value gone when you do your 145 degree turn in the fitting room mirror when your butt just looks a mile and a half wider than you know it is. The medium tint wash I tried on was definitely my favorite!

6-     The Perfect Boot: is just that- This is Gap’s most sellable jean; you can sell this all day long! Mid-rise with a double button, bootcut jean is an easy purchase for random everyday jean if you are unaware you can purchase the Paige Hidden Hills or the 7 for all mankind hi-waist bootcut, Hudson Bootcut, William Rast Stella, The AG Jesse, or several others on sale else where that will have 1 ½ inches of fabric placed differently that will visually lift your toosh just enough to noticeably grin in the mirror. I even suggested it to the gal in the fitting room across from me in a size smaller than all the jeans she was trying on. New mom out for her 1st pair of jeans before the baby weight was all gone (a quick fix that seamed quite painful as she had over 15 pairs of jeans on the floor. She bought the Perfect boot and left 5 minutes after I handed her the right size in the right jeans for her. Gap- keep training your crew on fitting… 15 jeans on the floor is way too many! People HATE shopping for jeans like they hate shopping for swimsuits- but they love buying them when they find them.


Gap TAKE NOTES:  The dark and the medium tint washes are your strongest- the medium light to light washes need a lot of work with hues and fade placement. The sizing is not consistent enough to be marketing to the masses without training your associates in fitting walk-in customers. This is an opportunity. I witnessed exhausting “fitting” attempts. You can make it easier for your associates and customers by adjusting your fit blocks and decreasing your sizing inconsistencies.

The curved waistbands are IMPRESSIVE. I take-in the waist to nearly every pair of jeans I touch on EVERY client about an inch. Your waistbands have the right amount of curve in them. The butt, the butt, the butt…. Freebie here…. Take the seat in ¼ inch, the rear pockets need to be raised almost 3/4 inch and come together about ½ and inch. If I actually detached the pockets and put them back on, I might even add a slight tilt for the customers that are buying your jeans to make a favorable view across the hips.

Oh… the Pastis story!!!!!! Okay- I went to NYC for FNO, Fashion Week and get a little vacation on. My friend and I cab’ed it to Pastis first thing in the morning for some of the most fantastic fresh fruit topped waffles; since Belgium. The table next to me had 3 people sitting at it. One Woman that didn’t say much, a man suited up full of nods and pointing, and a younger gal with about 10 large sheets of glossy paper beautifully prepared. I assume she is pitching a branding strategy. Being intrigued myself- I was ease dropping and trying to catch “who” it was for. I began laughing and talking with my friend about the presentation and strategy to be from the dark ages. It’s not the 80’s anymore. One of the photos’s showed an attractive woman with sunglasses on with the title “ she likes to feel sexy” QUESTION: what woman doesn’t like to feel sexy? Picture 2: Casual dressed woman with the title “ she juggles many tasks every day” QUESTION: What person today is not juggling daily tasks better than a professional clown from the Ringling Brothers? Picture 3: hot guy with the title: he like to feel stylish QUESTION: really? I am thinking who in the world is branding their apparel line so vaguely? How do they expect to reach a target market when you are not putting the research into direct consumer insights? I am beside myself in awe… that there are still companies that are using such ineffective tools to build their business in a time that technology has allowed us to track our clients so well. In all my International business, marketing,consumer behavior, branding, communication classes this presentation was unacceptable and one could argue the it not being worth the paper it was printed on.

I was thinking whatever company this was for is going to be experiencing some serious connection problems if there were going to direct and build their brand on such vague and common identifiers to attempt to understand or reach their desired demographic. I continued loving every bite of my breakfast. Pastis is great; I highly suggest going for breakfast. Still intrigued, heck- I couldn’t take my ears and eyes off the table next to me. A few comments didn’t mean anything, they were just conversation fillers, and there were a lot of nods and a couple moments where one might say it was a conversation. It looked as if they were all on the same page and feeling like the meeting was going well and the presentation was good. I was blown away and in complete awe- I had to know who this company was…

I thought maybe I would give them a call and see if they were interested in hiring me for a couple projects to get their team aligned and tasked out to gain real consumer information so they could build a concrete brand identity and identify their target market with regard to their current consumer. As I am sipping the last of my cappuccino the presentation papers are being flipped over to the front page. The suspense was killing me- all my attention went to the glossy white sheets to show me a navy blue square in the bottom right hand corner that read “GAP”……. I gagged on my coffee drink and nearly made a spectacle of myself trying not to choke on my perfect pre-Italian cappuccino laughing because this post was supposed to be queuing that day- This all started because I was frustrated. Watching an iconic brand that was once so successful to becoming lost in a mass of retailers; I finally got the glimpse inside that I wanted.

HERE IS THE UNDERLINING PROBLEM.

 Where are the photos of your customers shopping IN your 3,465 stores worldwide? I am pretty sure you can gain quite the insight on “who” your consumer is if you paid attention to the people giving you their dollar. Collegiate… have you been on a college campus this year for interviews. Sexy, where is the “style” in your basics,  Best fit, I am sorry if it hurts a little bit but you need to continue to refine your collection and possibly replace your fit model. Take a look at your industry, your market, your competitors and discover what YOU do better then them- I know! I am sure you can figure it out and re-define a brand worth building!  You can call me anytime and I will see what I can do about adjusting my schedule. You are taking some needed and positive baby steps this year that are milestones from the last 10 years. Keep it up.

10/2010 POST UPDATE- Thank you for changing your logo BACK to the original. There are no problems with regard to the logo. I promise! Instead, pay special attention to the lifestyle disconnect you are experiencing with your consumers. This goes in a circle right back to your store shopping experience. I understand wanting to grow with your consumer and raise the bar. My best advice- send me a check if you use it please… on the items you want to consider a “sophisticated” or “premium” product line- all you need to do is use the navy blue square as your brand identifier on the product.- YOU ARE AN ICON; you don’t require the white letters spelling out GAP, everyone knows “who” the blue square is associated with.

I am hoping you have a team going through your Facebook page comments during the “logo up heave” there were hundreds of consumers, marketing and branding guru’s giving you their attention, insights and feedback. The most common consumer feedback I read was “increase the quality on adult clothing” most common marketing feedback “the logo is PERFECT as is”. I hope this helps and doesn’t hurt too much… constructive criticism has the ability to create growth. Sometimes, it is difficult to get it from your own house- especially someone willing to play devils advocate to push the envelope and dig deeper into any and all plausible opportunities. Best of Luck.