Retail Detail. Can Patrick Robinson ‘Clothes’ and Repair the Gap?

March 12, 2008 • Fashion


Patrick Robinson for the Gap Fall ’08

It has been the burning the question of the last few years. Can the Gap be saved? According to an article in today’s Seattle Times, the brand that helped lead America into a
casual-clothing revolution has been floundering for years. Competition from stores like Target and H&M, where
people buy cheap chic as well as basics isn’t helping nor is a denim market that’s saturated. It would appear there’s no regaining the stronghold Gap once held.


Patrick Robinson for the Gap Fall ’08

Now Gap has a new head of design — Patrick Robinson, former artistic
director for Paco Rabanne — and the company took the unusual step of
presenting Robinson’s first full collection during New York Fashion
Week in February.

Before the presentation, he said that Gap "had been pulled from side
to side for different reasons" and suffered from "different leadership
and different messages." Brian Tunick, a retail analyst with J.P.
Morgan, said the Gap’s sheer size (1,278 stores in the U.S. and Canada)
and its attempt to be all things to all people didn’t help either.

Patrick Robinson for the Gap Fall ’08

Keeping those basics but banishing the boring and safe is what Gap
hopes Robinson, who joined the label in May, can do. While Robinson’s name is familiar in fashion cirlces, his track
record with the masses is less clear. He is credited with turning
around Giorgio Armani’s Collezioni line; his work at Perry Ellis was a
hit on the runway but not at the cash register; and his tenure at Paco
Rabanne was complicated by corporate restructuring, and the house
failed to ship his fall-winter collection.

Patrick Robinson for the Gap Fall ’08

Robinson said the goal behind his fall/winter collection of layered
classic pieces "was to take the classic, iconic heritage of the company
and make it relevant by doing things (such as) slimming down the cargo
pants, taking a peacoat and making it oversized or taking a
Chesterfield jacket and shortening it into a bomber."


Patrick Robinson for the Gap Fall ’08

Initial reaction to Robinson’s freshman collection has been mostly favorable. The collection is filled with all the basics: jeans, cargo pants, t-shirts, camisoles, pullovers, etc. However, it looks a little edgier, fashion forward and, a bit more sophisticated. The faux shearlings are particularly fresh.

Fortunatley for the Gap, current economic conditions could give the company a needed boost,
as more customers are looking to stretch their wardrobe dollar.

Patrick Robinson for the Gap Fall ’08

Read "Trying to bring back the Gap"

See the full collection at


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