TravelGuides – From classic to disposable: Gap UK closures reveal muddied identity | Retail industry


JourneyGuides – From classic to disposable: Gap UK closures reveal muddied identity | Retail industry

The information that Gap is to shut all 81 of its shops within the UK and Ireland will hardly come as a shock to these within the vogue industry. Once a favorite of insiders searching for classic minimal items with out the value tags of catwalk labels, its place has light in recent times, changed by manufacturers together with Arket, Weekday and Uniqlo.


Founded in 1969 in San Francisco, Gap got here to the UK in 1987 and has lengthy been identified for American classics akin to khakis, denims and white T-shirts. After varied sweatshop allegations within the 90s and early 00s, it positioned itself as the house of premium fundamentals and stored its vogue relevance for a very long time by balancing its blue-chip heritage with collaborations with buzzy younger designers together with Alexander Wang, Rodarte and Band of Outsiders. These names reworked classic designs that might showcase in slick adverts with supermodels together with Liya Kebede.


Quick Guide

A short historical past of Gap



The husband-and-spouse duo Don and Doris Fisher open the primary Gap retailer, in San Francisco. It initially sells solely males’s Levis and music.


Gap has greater than 25 shops promoting Levis for women and men. The first Gap-designed merchandise are unveiled, with denims following in 1978.


Gap buys Banana Republic, which at this level is 2 shops in Mill Valley, California. The guardian firm now additionally owns manufacturers together with Old Navy and Athleta.


The pocket T-shirt – now a Gap classic – is launched. Michael J Fox wears one in Back to the Future the next 12 months.


Gap comes to the UK, with a number of shops opening in London.


The blue emblem with the lengthy letters is launched. A model of it – though redesigned in 2016 – remains to be used in the present day.


The Individuals of Style marketing campaign is launched. It options celebrities together with Spike Lee, Joan Didion and Whoopi Goldberg.


The ‘Who Wore Khakis’ advert seems. Using archive imagery of individuals together with Amelia Earhart and Ernest Hemingway, it aligned Gap with American heroes.


Sharon Stone wears a $26 Gap turtleneck to the Oscars.


No Logo by Naomi Klein is printed. Each of Gap, Nike and Levis is branded a “brand bully” and every of Gap, Nike and Levis is proven to work with sweatshops in China and El Salvador.


Missy Elliott and Madonna seem collectively in a Gap advert.


Gap admits to utilizing sweatshops and removes 136 factories from its permitted contractors record.


Gap is proven to have baby labour in its provide chain, with a ten-12 months-previous boy in India filmed making clothes for the model.


After the Rana Plaza catastrophe, Gap kinds Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety to guarantee higher working circumstances for staff within the nation.


Gap increases the starting salary of a gross sales assistant to $9 an hour. President Obama reveals his approval by visiting a Gap retailer in New York.


Female staff in Asian factories producing Gap’s garments are sometimes topic to sexual and bodily abuse, according to allegations.


Gap have fun 50 years in enterprise.


A ten-12 months collaboration with Kanye West’s Yeezy brand is introduced.


Gap initiates the 2023 Power Plan. As a part of this, it closes all UK shops.

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Collaborations are nonetheless central to Gap’s tradition. The alliance with Kanye West’s Yeezy, which is predicted later this month on the earliest, is extremely anticipated. But some partnerships have attracted detrimental press. As the West information was introduced final 12 months, it was additionally revealed that the corporate’s collaboration with Telfar, the Black-owned American model well-known for its luggage, had been postponed indefinitely with Telfar’s group repeatedly following up on emails with no response. The designer Telfar Clemens criticised the model’s behaviour, telling the New York Times there was “a vast power imbalance, perpetuated by the narrative of ‘inclusivity’” when designers of color labored with large manufacturers akin to Gap. While Clemens was clear he was not a sufferer, the story was extra unhealthy publicity for Gap.

Shoppers pass the Gap store on Oxford Street in London, England.
Shoppers cross the Gap retailer on Oxford Street in London in June 2021. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty

Gap’s fall from grace may arguably have been averted if it had efficiently tapped into the Normcore development which started round 2014. The vogue motion centered on the type of 90s preppy non-garments worn by males akin to Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Jobs. Douglas Coupland, the voice of era X, even as soon as mentioned: “Gap clothing allows you to look like you’re from nowhere and anywhere” which is the intention of Normcore. The model, maybe resistant to wanting retro, nodded to the development in an advert marketing campaign referred to as Dress Normal, however the shiny photos failed to capitalise on the second. As the web site Jezebel put it: “Gap’s blah Dress Normal campaign doesn’t get the irony of normcore”.

These days, it feels as if the identity of the model has been muddied. In retailer, summer season prints on simple clothes combine with sportswear and fundamentals. While customers know Uniqlo for its Airism cooling material, cashmere sweaters and UT graphic T-shirts, maybe they’re not sure what marks Gap out, what makes up its USP.

Kanye West’s Gap round jacket.
Kanye West’s Gap spherical jacket. Photograph: Yeezy/Twitter

The information of the shops’ closures come as a part of a overview after falling gross sales within the pandemic and a change of guard. The unveiling of West’s first design for the model final month was hailed as a brand new period, with all earlier posts on the model’s Instagram deleted. The 10-12 months deal implies Gap has put plenty of religion in West as the person to revitalise its fortunes, supported by the British designer Mowalola Ogunlesi because the design director.

Putting a constructive spin on the information, Gap’s transfer to digital-solely within the UK may very well be seen as a part of a plan, an indication the viewers it’s wanting to enchantment to beneath West is a youthful demographic who retailers on-line-solely, the customers behind the success of Boohoo and Asos previously 12 months. Gap is betting that shops – costly to run and affected by much less demand – are not crucial and that the digital-first development continues because the world comes out of a pandemic. Whether or not this may work stays to be seen.

JourneyGuides – From classic to disposable: Gap UK closures reveal muddied identity | Retail industry


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