Now that stores are displaying fall apparel, I recently
checked out what the major retail chains have to offer. I typically chose to
avoid stores like Ann Taylor, Gap and Banana Republic as I don’t relish in seeing myself
coming and going. However, I have been noticing in WWD that mass retailers are displaying
some abysmal numbers so I thought I should do some investigative work.
According to WWD, August 18, 2006, Gap Inc., posted more
than a 50% fall in net profits and a 5 % decline in comparable-store sales in the
second quarter. They are struggling to win back customers and showing few signs
that turnaround efforts have begun to have an impact. Gap Inc. president and
chief executive Paul Pressler apparently has blinders on. “Each brand is at a
different stage in its turnaround, we are encouraged by improved performance at
Banana Republic and our online division.” Pressler added, “we know it will take
several seasons of consistent product, marketing and store improvements to win
back our customers. We remain committed to the strategies at each of our brands
and to our growth initiatives."
Monday I visited Gap, Banana Republic and J. Crew and
noticed one glaring commonality…they all got it dead wrong this fall. Most fashion
magazines agree that the top trends for Fall ’06-07 include: grey, black, red,
plaid, sweater tunics, dresses, skinny jeans, etc. Yet, you would never know
that by walking into Gap which is still stuck in this preppy grey area. Teens
and young adults now have options like Forver21 and H&M which are less
expensive and nail the trends. Even adults are running to those stores for disposable
clothing and taking more fashion risks. It would appear Gap lost its market.
Banana Republic was the most disappointing. The color scheme
was last year’s brown and beige. The styles were last year’s as well with an abundance
of faux-wrap dresses, riding boots, skinny belts and Victorian blouses. There
were no sweater dresses, check patterns, platform booties or tie neck blouses
and the only red to be seen was one boat- neck sweater. It would appear even
the display manager knew Banana Republic blew it as that red sweater was prominently
displayed on a mannequin like a sad testament to another lackluster year for
J. Crew, oh what to do. Yes, they had plaid, but it was unfeminine,
muted and the scale of the print was all wrong. There was a little leopard print,
but the quality looked poor for the prices they were charging. It was just…dull.
With intense competition from trendy and lower-priced retailers
to mid-tier designer lines that cost the same for better quality and
originality, Gap Inc. is going to have to start attending some fashion shows. They
had six months to design apparel that embraced at a minimum some of the hot
trends for fall. The landscape of fashion is changing far too quickly to wait
for them to catch up.
– Lauren Dimet
See the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40