A few days ago, I read yet another negative story about the Gap, this time a WSJ piece titled Revolving Door Spins at Gap about designer Patrick Robinson's departure. I couldn't help but ask myself, what's the deal with the Gap? It feels as it they have been going down the tubes for the past 10 years but somehow they manage to hang on. Last year's logo redesign debacle didn't help position the brand favorably. Not only was the logo panned by designers there was no sense of purpose behind it.
All this negativity sparked my curiosity and last week I wandered into one of New York City's many Gap retail locations and, wham! I got it. Gap is failing because their stores are a mess. Not a literal mess, a branding mess. They have become vanilla to a fault: where was the music, the multi-ethnic groups of models proving happiness could be found in a pair of $39.99 khakis?
With retailers like Uniqlo dazzling consumers with their rainbow selection of affordable jeans nestled in a perfectly minimalist space or Abercrombie's shirtless teens drenched in cologne and hormones powerful enough to make even the most popular girl's heart skip a beat, endless racks of flannel jammies just aren't going to cut it.
If I were in charge, I'd focus my energy on fixing the retail experience. Create an environment in which the clean lines of a white t-shirt can be a star and then start worrying about who designs them.