April 19, 2007

swimming with the fishers.


by all indications, gap design editions, with cfda/vogue fashion fund winners doo ri, thakoon and rodarte is a hit. most of the smaller sizes were sold out in stores and online. and the summer collection, which recently hit stores with cute shorts, cropped pants, and dresses, has garnered positive comments from shoppers for being not only on trend, but back to the looks that people expect from the gap. so what went wrong with the venerable retailer? a book that never made it to your local borders may have some insight.

cnnmoney.com has the backstory on the gap, founded by san franciscians don and doris fisher, and run for don and his brother bob for many years. it tells of don’s hiring of mickey drexler, who was the main catalyst in gap’s rise in the 80s and their tumultuous relationship, drexler’s ultimate firing, and don fisher’s unwillingness to let go of the company he built. most of the information in the article comes from the book falling into the gap, written by don fisher and art twain, which was never published.

although sources close to gap have said that the company was shopping around banana republic and old navy, no sale has been finalized to date. according to march sales figures, sales were up 4% at gap, 8% at banana republic and 10% at old navy, which indicates that things are moving in the right direction. as executives talk of continuing gap design editions and remodeling flagship stores (san francisco’s powell street being one of these), the question remains can gap learn from the past and turn around its business in the wake of many competitors? i, for one, am anxiously awaiting what’s next.