Does Gap have what it takes?

Good morning denim lovers, it is nearly 3am and I have written you a novel. David Moin wrote an article in this weeks WWD; about “Gap Gearing Up Denim” that caught my attention. Gap…denim… really; we are going to do this AGAIN? I am not convinced that Gap Inc. knows how to communicate their brand, differentiate their store experience or have a “real” relationship with their customer… who are they? J crew knows who they are and who their client is…Does gap have the right crew to pull off the gap brand being cool and return to be a closet staple like it was in the 90’s? 


Personally, I am going direct here- let’s ask the questions; I have asked several kids, friends and even my own clients {what do you think about GAP} Some comments I may be playing devils advocate,  than again, some may be right inline with my personal belief that fact is there are questions that need to be answered and considered. Enjoy….

What kind of shopping destination is Gap and would “you” ever go back?

The sales we saw last year in the 2009 during the retail meltdown gave everyone a chance to have designer goods for garage sale prices. Do you really want to give back the labels you love or have you begun a small, planned collection of love-able items in your closet…the yearly fashion bucket list I call it… I’ve got one! You just may haven’t actually wrote yours down. Go get a notepad…

Are people being “YOU” willing to pay full retail for Gap jeans @$59.50-$70.00 rather than hitting the killer sales at your favorite specialty store or much less skip the opportunity at Nordstrom Rack to score a pair of $200.00 designer jeans for sixty-five bucks? Who is the Gap customer; I don’t believe they know who their customer is nevertheless who to market to!

Another favorite Quote: “Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance” unknown

I am gonna break it down in “coffee talk”…quick!

Rock & Republic kids

Elementary School: Yes! Grade school kids are wearing designer jeans…It is common for kids to be rewarded with “socially coveted cloth” designer jeans for finishing their monthly book reading list.  If you were to walk into an elementary school you would see, P.S by Areopostal ($29.50), abercrombie Kids ($32.00), and probably some Levi’s, a few randoms but that’s parents… not the kids! If you asked the kid, they would tell you what they like {they already know}. They might just be waiting for their older sister’s hand me downs. FYI:Older sister is cool- she’s wearing the cool jeans that she earns for doing chores and having good grades. If you ask the parents-it’s about money- but Gap jeans aren’t going to be cheap they are comparable. Every company should want to introduce their product and brand to a potential customer as soon as possible in order to develop brand loyalty and allow the brand to become part of the consumer’s identity. “lifestyle branding is beautiful” you’ve seen it at work; its like shaking Tinkerbell’s fairy dust on each person that walks in your store- a little magic”. How early….look at Baby designer jeans- Joe’s, Seven 4 all Mankind, True Religion, Levi’s Vintage, Diesel, little Marc Jacobs… heck- we’ve got DENIM Huggies!

Middle School:

6th graders- the babies on campus again; luckily they are starting a new team sport to help adjust and make some new friends. They are beginning to make decisions based on their ideal and start developing a personal identity and identify with brands, groups, and are striving for social acceptance. They most likely just got their first magazine subscription. Gap…where are you spending your advertising dollars? I can’t see Gap jeans being hotter than Abercrombie & Fitch in middle school; because the high school kids are wearing them and working in the stores-they’re “cool” kids. It doesn’t take rocket science to know middle schooler’s look up to older siblings, high school kids, and celebrities.  Just like the incoming freshman want the designer jeans that are on the 11 and 12th graders… POCKET ENVY! The lifestyle branding VALUE kids get to feel accepted and confident is priceless. Have you been back there lately…it’s not pretty! No matter how much you develop a child skills, talents and value system, acceptance or lack there of at such a young age makes a difference in their confidence and motivation with their endeavor.

Alright, your 6,7,8 grader DOES NOT GO SHOPPING WITH THEIR PARENTS! The mall is like a big FREE babysitter! They even have security; “let’s call it multi-tasking for the mums and the “social time” for the kids. This is when shopping becomes a “hobby” or a way to “pass” the time. Going to the mall is about all they can do when they are not playing sports or doing homework. Kids are at the mall…shopping with their friends, hanging out and spending their parents money WITHOUT THEM. Is it a cool experience to go in to Gap? ya.. no. Turn the music up- incorporate a video arcade… dude- something to get these kids excited about being a part of your BRAND! Kids are amazing… I truly want like…a million! They are blank canvases just waiting for a killer sales associate to walk up and play dress up, show them how great they look in such in such brand of clothing and teach them a little bit of style. But instead… no one pays attention to the kids in the store… do they? Well, I do! I have had an entire 6th grade cheerleading squad come down to my store and do a little cheer ’cause they all shop with me.  I am the ultimate big sister and I will adopt anyone that needs one. I think it is the coolest thing ever to have someone look up to you and a beautiful responsibility to show them how special they are; inspire them to want to do great things! p.s. I am not talking about dressing up little girls in mini denim skirts and ruffles. I am talking about taking an eleven year old that is shy or prissy and making her confident enough to rock the boys camo cargo shorts, a pink tank top, hoodie, ripped up denim jacket and flip flops – when all the other girls are wearing the denim mini skirts, make-up and tight tee-shirts “little kid sexy”. Which little girl is going to be stronger, self-confident, and find her own personal style and identity first?

Kids are also wearing at this point: Hollister, A&F, 55DSL, Lucky, and American Eagle, and breaking in to designer jeans like Seven 4 all mankind. Rock & Republic killed kids with POCKET ENVY; everyone learned about designer denim real quick!

Oh.. the dreaded HIGH SCHOOL: If you are sending your child out to war their freshman year without the damn pocket just get them a pair so they don’t have to deal with it! “go to the mattresses” Kids can be VERY cruel! So, give-in for them, just one pair that’s all it takes to be “accepted” into the club or should I say avoid being “rejected” from the clicks. At least they have 4 years to decide if they want to be friends with any of the other kids rather than it not being an option. First impressions go both ways! I would LOVE a brand to emphasize individuality and “secret” of the brand. Levi has remained true to the All-American lifestyle…so, far as Levi’s are neither coveted nor shunned with the youth age group.

We are in high school now and are parents may or may not wear designer denim but… I bet they do, because it took over the WORLD! If mom does, then daughter is stealing them or begging for more! Dad is going to buy them for his son-cake!

So, what is paired with every hoodie and henley in the halls… jeans! But, again are they gap jeans? Would they become gap jeans? Levis are just American- blank-accepted- and less expensive than the new gap jeans.

COLLEGE: If you didn’t get the magical cloth in high school well- YOU ARE GETTING SENT OFF TO COLLEGE WITH THEM! Why? because this kid is fed up with NOT having them in high school- sick of it! Are incoming freshman rushing in Gap jeans? When you have 7 days to show who you are and that you belong to a particular “social” group? NO! Hudson, Citizen’s, Rich n’ Skinny, Rock & Republic.. oh yea! Need a refresher from your SAT’s… Attorney is to suit as College student is to jeans; it’s a uniform people. The only difference is that these uniforms also serve as status symbols… I am not even going to start on Handbags!

COLLEGE: This is where your consumer learns about personal services available at Barney’s, Neiman Marcus, Forum Stores, SAKS 5th Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods, “some” Nordstrom stores and the INTERNET groups like GILT and Ruelala. How’s your loyalty right now… gap- do you have any interactive college apps?

Now, all these kids are good kids, honor roll, driven, are/have great friends, confident, ambitious (they are going to change the world you know), and family oriented. But, our youth is our time to experiment, express, and decide who we are and mold who we are going to be- Seize the day! Fashion is the way we decide how we are going to start our future! You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it twice…”everyone is in such a hurry to grow up”… are you still wearing children’s clothing?

So, you’re average college student buys: A&F, Hollister, AE, Levis, Seven 4 all mankind, William Rast, Urban Outfitters, Rock n’ Republic, XXI, Hudson…and hits up Nordstrom Rack FIRST! Gap— who is going to gap… there is no music, no service, no prints, “overpriced” basics and …no memorable lifestyle shopping experience? Personally, I am busy- and I don’t have time to go shopping if it is not going to be an EVENT or BLISS!

Post college: you’re BROKE! Thank god you stocked up on all your denim when you were in college… you’re starving now so, they all fit again! However, that first tax return they get for actually working an entire year is sooo… going to buy the newest hottest jeans in February! Although, graduation is only 5 months away from Christmas!

Thus far…baby gap is pretty strong, Toddler gap sizes definitely do-able, teen and young adult- NEEDS SOME WORK!

Addicted to denim... that’s us these days, always on to the next. The best, perfect pocket placement in a world consumed by pocket envy… or so, far beyond that it is just all about the butt! There’s the question [ding, ding, ding, ding, ding] Does gap have a better denim butt then Paige Premium Denim?

{to be continued}…