Step…into the Gap?

Friday, 28 September 2007

Gap has a shoe store. Or, make that, Gap has a shoe store? Yes, Gap, Inc. (GPS) has boots.giflaunched a new online outlet for feet, PiperLime. Only problem is, no one seems to know, or care.

The Gap companies have been struggling to regain the immense popularity they enjoyed back when sweatshirts meant style and tapered jeans ruled the streets, not the runway. Banana Republic is holding strong as an “accessible luxury” brand, but Old Navy and gap.jpgGap seem to have lost their respective ways. Old Navy brought in Todd Oldham to revive the fading brand(whose best marketing seemed to be commercials that annoyed viewers but stayed with them), and The Gap finally stopped cheapening a cultural icon with their Audrey Hepburn campaign. And who could forget the ill-fated and misconceived baby-boomer brand Forth & Towne?

I love the tagline for the Hepburn campaign, by the way, and I wish Gap would take their advertising slogan to heart.The problem with the majority of Gap’s marketing is audreygap.jpgbranding-they try to be everything to everyone, and it’s just too much.The Gap offshoots of Old Navy and Banana stemmed from this idea-and they worked for awhile- but as we can see with Old Navy, not quite well, or long, enough. Gap had a solid standing as a quality clothing company with reasonable prices; definitely not a high-fashion brand, but a back-to-school staple, wear-to-work pieces that were actually comfortable, perfect weekend wear.

Now, Gap is trying, unsuccessfully, to emulate higher end designers, pushing away their current client base without pulling in their new targets. Old Navy was meant to draw in a younger, hipper crowd, but the clothes are too blah and mainstream, not worth even their ridiculously low prices. Forth & Towne alienated consumers from the get go, positioning itself as an “older” version of the Gap, as opposed to a separate entity. That is where Banana Republic has succeeded beautifully; most people don’t know they are part of Gap, Inc., while everyone knows Old Navy and Forth & Towne are (or were).

Gap needs to stick to what they are good at, what made them a major brand in the first place. This is what major, solid brands (think Nike, Apple) do so well at, what gives them staying power and financial success. Once Gap figures that out, there may be hope. They could try a retro/classic thing like Coca-Cola did after the whole New Coke fiasco.

As for PiperLime? The shoes are nice and very reminiscient of Gap’s classic look, which is a good start, but a lot of the price points are way too high for Gap shoppers. Gap is affordable; hardly anything reaches over $100, save for coats and an occasional leather bag, and that’s the way people like it. If Gap wants PiperLime to succeed as it stands now, they need to cut it loose(it’s highly tied in with Gap’s current site). If they want to make it more like a GapShoes.com, then they need to reevaluate their products and customer demographics.

Good brands know to do what they do well; they don’t waste time trying to get their hands in everything.I would like to see Gap do well, but everytime I see their ads or walk by a store window I hear Everclear’s “Everything to Everyone” in my head.

“Why don’t you ever learn? Spin around and fall down, do it again.”

I hope Gap lands on their feet. My wallet could use some cute, affordable clothes. Until then, I’m shopping at Banana.

3 Comments

  • I agree with you…and also, what is Forth & Towne? I certainly never heard of it.

    Comment by Heidi Vail — October 1, 2007 @ 11:36 am
  • I shop at Old Navy exclusively because they are the most inexpensive, yet decent brand. Regardless of their crappy ads, their adds explain their unbeatable low prices.

    Comment by Tim — October 4, 2007 @ 12:57 pm
  • Forth & Towne is the Gap’s misguided and shortlived atempt to create a Gap brand for babyboomers…think Talbot’s or Chico’s, but from the Gap. Unfortunately, they made it very obvious that that’s what it was, to the point that they insulted their potential customer base. I’m not sure what the price points were, but I’m willing to bet either a) they were too expensive for most Gap customers who were used to decent quality for a reasonable price; or b) they were cheap and it showed in the quality of the clothing; customers would rather pay more at Talbot’s to have something that fits well and looks good.

    Comment by alison — October 18, 2007 @ 10:26 am

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