Retail Detail. Gap’s Designer Pieces, Falls To Pieces. Second City Style Fashion Blog

December 4, 2006 • Shopping


Cynthia Sanner got to Gap Inc.’s New
York store Dec. 1 on Fifth Avenue two hours before it opened to
make certain she would get one of French designer Roland
Mouret’s dresses made exclusively for the clothing chain.         

She shouldn’t have bothered. She stood alone for an hour and
20 minutes before being joined in line by two other shoppers.
“I was shocked,” said the 35-year-old personal assistant from
New York. “I thought it was going to be a mob scene.”    

This suggests not even borrowing a
tactic used by Swedish rival Hennes & Mauritz AB will help Gap
ignite holiday sales. Chief Executive Officer Paul Pressler is
struggling to lure shoppers after comparable sales declined in
27 of 30 months. H&M drew throngs by partnering with designers
such as Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney.         

Unlike Stockholm-based H&M’s treatment of its designs, Gap
didn’t display Mouret’s name in stores or windows or even on the
clothing. “It’s missed execution,” said Mark Montagna, a New
York-based CL King & Associates analyst who rates Gap

“It’s good they are doing this test,” Montagna said.
“It’s more to raise the image of the Gap brand. But it’s a
missed opportunity.”         

At New York Gap stores, Mouret’s pieces were featured in
windows with a sign reading, “The Five Dresses. Limited
Edition. Designed Exclusively for Gap.” Nowhere did Mouret’s
name appear. When H&M in November sold Dutch duo Viktor & Rolf’s
collection, their name was prominently displayed and lines
snaked around the outside of stores.         

“I don’t think it was well-publicized,” said Kate Casey,
30, a registered nurse from New York who said she hadn’t shopped
at Gap in two years and came only to buy the dresses. “I even
went online, and they didn’t have this on the Web site.”         

To boost holiday sales, Pressler introduced a television
commercial for the Gap brand after an absence last year, and
increased radio and direct mail for its Old Navy chain. On the
Friday after Thanksgiving, more than 150 Gap outlets opened at
midnight, compared with about 10 last year.         

The third-quarter introduction of skinny black pants with
advertising featuring Audrey Hepburn, and clothes supporting
singer Bono’s AIDS campaign also failed to boost traffic.         

“It’s encouraging to see they are trying different
avenues,” said Lawrence Creatura, a portfolio manager at
Rochester, New York-based Clover Capital Management who said
he’ll consider buying Gap shares if sales improve.         

The key is converting shoppers like Barbara Saunders, a 48-
year-old museum curator from Ormond Beach, Florida. Saunders,
who hadn’t been to a Gap in two years, bought three Mouret
dresses and browsed through other racks.         

“I was shocked there were so many cute things,” she said.
“I’m going to try to encourage my girls to shop here.”         

Source Bloomberg                

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