Tag Archives: Gap

Is the Gap Back? Also, ‘A Proposition for Prep’

Hello-Hello, happy top of a new week to everyone.

Today we begin with a look at a topic we have been pondering lately, how things are going for the Gap. Some may recall earlier posts in this space about challenges facing the retailer, this weekend’s Times carried an interesting story about the company, “A Humbled Gap Tries a Fresh Coat of Pep“.  The lead sentence makes perfect sense to someone like myself who has been following Gap’s misfortunes, and wondering about the company’s marketing plan.

“THIS can’t be a Gap: the mannequins look kind of happy.”

That covers a broad swath of things related to Gap’s ongoing dilemma, more on the company’s situation can be found in Stephanie Clifford’s story:

After defining 1990s khaki culture, Gap fell hard in the early 2000s. Management missteps, executive turnover and, not least, unappealing fashion punished sales. It was a remarkable comedown for a chain that once seemed to dictate how America dressed.

What went wrong? Dozens of interviews with current and former executives depict a company that chased after rivals, rather than charting its own course, and that cut quality and lost touch with customers. Simply put, it filled its stores with stuff that people didn’t want.

I don’t know about your Palace, but that second paragraph resonates here at The Prepatorium, especially the quality issue. Parenthetically, it is also a description one could apply almost verbatim to Talbots current status.

It looks like some basics are back on track, like Gap’s Oxford Shirts.

Gap

While not a close observer or customer of the Baby Gap line, it seemed from what we noticed in online and print ads that this part of the company retained its focus and core products fairly well….yes?  For those in touch with the children’s clothing, was quality an issue here as well, or not so much?

Baby Gap

The DVF for Baby Gap and Gap Kids line is insanely cute. (More on this collaboration may be found here.)

DVF for Baby Gap

Below, two marketing images from this spring demonstrates the retailer’s commitment to vivid colors.

Gap

More from the NY Times story:

But recent moves seem to be spurring sales. The clothes are bright and fabrics better. (Mr. Peck mandates a minimum weight for T-shirts and knits.) And Gap has added production flexibility so it can chase trends it initially missed — for instance, it just rushed in floral-printed jeans for women.

Again, the emphasis on plenty of brights.

Gap

The back to basics mantra is also influencing the men’s clothing and accessories.

Gap

Other initiatives don’t seem as popular, like the brand’s flip-flops, at least if judging by comments left on the Gap Facebook page, there is some push back on these when it comes to the price, $24.95.

The story closes with a paragraph about Gap’s collection for this winter.

Mannequins wore winter gear, like an updated cable-knit sweater with a slouchy fit. The rest of the collection was red, navy and camel — peppy and preppy.

It looked like something that had been missing for a long time: it looked like the Gap.

It would be wonderful to see Gap back again.

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Also today, a quick look at a piece done over at The Bag Snob titled “The Top 5 Preppy Bags: A Proposition for Prep“:

The Bag Snob

In the story Bag Snob Tina writes:

The word “preppy” tends to have a very specific connotation. Somehow, eighties imagery of Lacoste alligators, Nantucket Reds, and Sperry topsiders (not that they’ve even left preppy dudes’ closets) still hover.

But I’m noticing a freshly cut crop of clean-cut bags that put the “hip” in “prepster,” if you will. Whether you carry yours with a hint of irony or without blinking an eye, it’s time to embrace a little bit of modern prep.

The Anya Hindmarch ‘Nevis’ color block tote is very attractive, that color combo is perfect for the summer!

Until next time may your skies be bright and beautiful!

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Filed under Collaborations, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

“Herds of Thundering Preppy Clothiers”

Hello-Hello, and welcome to another wacky week of preppy insanity here at the Princess!

We begin with more in-depth looks at the new LL Bean Signature and Lands’ End Canvas lines, most notably on AOL’s Walletpop blog and in Luminosity Marketing, an online journal.  The first item is titled “LL Bean’s New Signature Line: The preppy look gets a risky makeover“. 

“After all, Bean isn’t just a brand; it’s an institution, a torchbearer, a monument to a bygone lifestyle. Along with Brooks Brothers, Sperry and a few other labels, it represents one of the last survivors of the great age of prep, when vast herds of preppy clothiers thundered across the American retail plain, dispensing tweed and bespoke throughout the land.”

We absolutely adore the “thundering across America” imagery, hordes of preps armed with canvas totes and headbands, wielding strands of pearls like slingshots.

“And while the new clothes are recognizably Bean, they sport a more tight-fitting, body-conscious style that should draw in Gap, Abercrombie, J Crew and Banana Republic fans.”
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We don’t recall seeing a madras scarf before and think this item could merit a second look. One more line from the story, this raises an interesting topic:
“In fact, many of its items are often less expensive than comparable garments at Gap, which has long been perceived as the well-made, reasonably-priced choice for the casually preppy look.”
We are curious to know your thoughts on the issue, do you find Gap prices higher than Bean?

Now to the post from Luminosity Marketing, “Geek Out: Lands’ End and L.L. Bean’s Preppy Resurgence“. Geek out. Hhhhmmm. From that story:

“With preppy, All-American fashions enjoying a nice comeback, we’ve seen many brands that have been able to successfully leverage the trend.”

As always, the “preppy comes back” theme prompts an inner smile here at the Prepatorium; from comments in the past on the topic, many readers share this reaction. Back to the story by Lamont Swittenberg:

“We’ve commented here on the resurgence of Sperry Topsiders, but brands like J-Crew, Barbour, Lacoste, Brooks Brothers, Clark’s and a host of new labels have also been successful at taking advantage of this shift in consumer preference. Before recently however, two of the most iconic preppy brands, Lands’ End and L.L. Bean, had remained curiously silent.”

We apologize for this temporary break from our point, but we have to insert this tongue-in-cheek item from Lacoste, the Comic Croc Shopping Bag:

Back to the primary point of today’s post, new styles from Bean and Lands’ End; below, a Webbed Belt from the Canvas line and the classic Tretorn sneaker.

Our hats are off to Mr. Swittenberg; he purchased a substantial amount of merchandise from both the Signature and Canvas lines to better judge the end products from both companies. Ultimately the story makes this point:

“It’s great when brands have the product development and marketing smarts to update their image while maintaining their essence. It’s a delicate balance that’s not easy to pull-off. The tendency is either to jump too far onto the latest bandwagon or to dogmatically stick to the tried and true past (while slowly becoming a dinosaur). Kudos to both Lands End and L.L. Bean for showing us all the way forward.”

Both pieces make for a good read.

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A few more tidbits:

Lord & Taylor is promoting ‘preppy sneakers’:

Lord & Taylor

While The Fashion List talks about the upcoming limited edition collection from Sebago.

Courtesy Photos via The Fashion List

The firm is celebrating 40 years of their Dockside shoe, Sebago’s counter to the Sperry Topsider.

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We wrap up with two quick items, including today’s Pretty in Pink:

Rosie Campbell is a talented designer we were fortunate enough to discover when she entered our most recent giveaway.  We fell in love with her belt buckles, handmade in the USA.

We close with yet another popular culture phenomenon we were completely clueless about: the micro pig.  (With apologies to any Facebook fans who may have seen this mentioned on that venue.)

We had to include it because of one of the creature’s bigger fans is one of our original AntiPreps.

Hello! Magazine

And because the little critters were included as part of this year’s Golden Globes swag bags. (Yes, we put this in the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” category.) The LA Times has more:

“The pet pigs usually sell for about $5,000, the suite people tell me, but the visiting celebrities would be able to get one for free. All they’d have to do is complete a one-hour course on how to treat the li’l porkers and present a certificate of completion.”

There you have it.

On that note, g’bye until next time!

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Filed under Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Pretty in Pink, You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Gap Sneak Peek & More on Those Lacoste Holiday Polos

Hello-Hello… and greetings from the Prepatorium on another busy day!

Despite the fact we have yet to put away all of our summer clothing, we begin with an early look at next Spring’s fashions from the Gap.

PHOTO: Yukie Kasuga/WWD

PHOTO: Yukie Kasuga/WWD

The retailer showed next year’s styles at a show in Tokyo yesterday. As is generally the case, some things looked darling….

PHOTO: /WWD

PHOTO: Yukie Kasuga/WWD

Others not so much….

PHOTO:

PHOTO: Yukie Kasuga/WWD

We keep thinking a lot of Liberty-style prints have been seen on this fall’s runways.

PHOTO:

PHOTO: Yukie Kasuga/WWD

There will be a lot to choose from, in a variety of pastels and and other pretty colors.

Courtesy Gap via Style.com

Courtesy Gap via Style.com

Just so everyone knows that TP is clear on what season we’re in, we close out this section of the post with an Adventure in Argyle from Gap’s fall line, their Women’s V-neck Sweater, available in a number of colorways.

gp691465-00vliv01gp691465-01vliv01

This one is available now, both online and in stores.

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We have been meaning to ask if anyone purchased pieces in the Vera Bradley Canvas collection?

Courtesy Vera Bradley

Courtesy Vera Bradley

We remember seeing a good number of advertisements for the line, but haven’t seen any in stores. An online search generated a number of eBay links so we thought we would ask readers if they knew what became of the collection?

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Some readers may recall our July post talking about ‘when logos attack,’ featuring the upcoming Lacoste holiday collection; we have an update on the collaboration between the preppish retailer and Brazilian brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana, who designed the polo shirts for this 4th Holiday Collector’s Series. (We wouldn’t be surprised to see work from the Campana brothers when Brazil hosts the Olympics in 2016.)

Prices will run from $165 to $7,000. The ‘special edition’ polo seen below showcases a ‘logo’ of eight crocodiles.

Courtesy Lacoste via Dezeen.com

Courtesy Lacoste via Dezeen.com

This shirt will retail for $165 and “only 20,000” have been manufactured, available November 1 at Lacoste online and the boutiques, as well as the Manhattan Barneys. The motif is based upon a chair the brothers previously designed.

Courtesy Yatzer.com

Courtesy Yatzer

Only 250 of this version have been created:

Courtesy Lacoste

Courtesy Lacoste

Contemplating this as a Christmas gift for Bitsy or Chip? You will need to tap the trust fund for $1,900 if purchasing the women’s model, or $2,900 if acquiring the men’s version.

You will also need to send your trusted assistant to the Moss store in either New York or Los Angeles to purchase one, the only place they will be available.

But do not forget the super-dooper-double-dipping-doppler-radar-version:

Courtesy Lacoste via WWD.com

Courtesy Lacoste via WWD.com

(Okay, that may have been a little over the top.) This is the ultra-limited-edition, only 24 have been created. The ‘fabric’ consists of hundreds of crocodile logos handstitched together, almost creating something akin to a Lacoste lace.

Courtesy Lacoste

Courtesy Lacoste

And as we wrote in July,

“If wondering about our Logophobia, we can only say “non, non, non, ce n’est pas un problème,” for these appear to be done with an artistic eye, yes… an outlook accompanied by a touch of whimsy.  They do not appear to take themselves too seriously. Very, very witty.”

Unfortunately they are also $5,000 or $7,000 depending upon the female or male version and clearly in the conspicuous consumption zone.

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Today’s Pretty in Pink showcases the Prescriptives Pink Ribbon Palette for Cheeks and Eyes, our link is to Nordstrom, but it is available in many locations. Prescriptives will donate $20,000 to the BCRF (Breast Cancer Research Foundation).

Prescriptives will donate $20,000 to the BCRF as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

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We leave with a photo seen in today’s Times, perhaps recognizable to some readers as originally being featured on the popular Cake Wrecks blog.

cakewrecks.com/Andrews McMeel Publishing via NYTimes.com

Cake Wrecks/Andrews McMeel Publishing via NYTimes.com

The Times’ story looks at the popular blog and a new book coming out featuring 250 of the best wrecks. (That still looks like a lovely concoction compared to many of our baking endeavors!)

We’ll be back tomorrow!

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Filed under Argyle, Logos, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Pretty in Pink

Jack Rogers Plans Huge Expansion

Hello-Hello everyone!

We start with news about a favored brand that is expanding their product offerings. Serious expansion. We’re talking about Jack Rogers, makers of the ubiquitous Navajo sandal seen below.

PHOTO: Thomas Iannaccone/WWD

PHOTO: Thomas Iannaccone/WWD

For those not familiar with the footwear, here is a brief explainer from this story in WWD:

“In resort towns like East Hampton and Nantucket, the Jack Rogers Navajo sandal has for decades been as much a part of the scene as tennis skirts and tunics. In the Sixties, the sandal was popularized by Jackie Kennedy.”

Those paying close attention to that photo probably already noticed something else: the new Jack Rogers slim ballet flat. Below we see another version of their new flat.

PHOTO: Thomas Iannacone/WWD

PHOTO: Thomas Iannaccone/WWD

But new footwear isn’t the only thing on the drawing board for the company.  This story from Women’s Wear Daily (subscription req’d.) offers more information about plans for the Jack Rogers brand:

“…sportswear, dresses, handbags, shoes, boots and a wider selection of sandals, and the first Jack Rogers retail stores, for the upcoming resort and spring seasons.”

The new merchandise will be available at Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, along with 400 independent boutiques already selling the brand; the plan is to expand this footprint to include:

“…Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and other stores. Trousers, priced at retail at $170; cotton sundresses, $168 to $200; woven dress shirts, $148, and closed-toe shoes, generally $129 to $189, are among the items being offered. There will be also be some handmade, detailed ballet flats and items in more expensive skins, priced at $225. Shorts, T-shirts, purses, totes, clutches, jelly sandals, driving shoes, boots and moccasins are also being designed.”

On a personal level this is splendid news. But from a business perspective we are reminded of many recent brand extensions that have not fared well, many with disastrous results. The failed Ruehl stores Abercrombie opened so quickly come to mind, as do the continuing rumors that Crocs, following explosive growth, could soon file bankruptcy. Even smaller efforts like the Oilily expansion into the US was not successful.

However, there are several executives at Jack Rogers who possess solid resumes with experience at firms like Polo Ralph Lauren, Gap and Tory Burch. This leads us to hope that the broad brand extensions of the kind detailed above prove to be the exception, rather than the rule.  When we see the word ‘jelly sandals’ included in the new product line we cringe more than just a little.

Wondering where the new Jack Rogers stores might be going…?

“…. the first expected to open around February 2010 in Manhattan, followed by units in the Hamptons, and Palm Beach or Bal Harbour, Fla.”

We know quite a few folks who will be pleased with this news. Are you excited by the news? And thoughts on Jack Rogers Jellies?

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We close with a fun tidbit we saw on British Vogue’s site, news that Christian Louboutin has teamed up with Ladurée, the famed French macaroon and pastry house.

Courtesy Ladurée via Vogue UK

Courtesy Ladurée via Vogue UK

The luxury shoe designer has created special boxes for all those delicious goodies, they will be available in the UK this September, no word yet on the possibility of anyone on this side of the pond being able to purchase the designs.

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Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle

J. Crew Execs Everywhere, Are Crossword Puzzles an Ivy Thing?

Hello-Hello and Happy Monday!  We hope everyone enjoyed a splendid weekend!

It seems this past weekend had a bit of a J. Crew management theme in some of the national media. As previously mentioned, J. Crew Grand Pooh-Bah Mickey Drexler was profiled yesterday on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” program.  The feature looks quite interesting, click here to see the full story.

Also this Sunday, the LA Times carried an interesting story on Jenna Lyons, J. Crew’s Design Director.

PHOTO: Melanie Acevedo

PHOTO: Melanie Acevedo

If curious about what duties and responsibilities her job actually involves, the story explains:

“That title means she’s in charge of every design element of the company, website and catalog, and it’s her attention to detail — delicate beading, raw edges, crepe de Chine ruffles — that sets J.Crew apart from other mall stores. The company’s ability to be both aspirational and attainable has made it popular with Indianapolis career women and Birkin-toting Malibu trophy wives alike.”

Fashion Critic Booth Moore’s article looks at the ‘cult of Jenna’:

“Bloggers evaluate her personal as well as professional style, contributing to the budding cult of Jenna. They wax eloquently about her love of neutral colors, Sharpie pens and Maybelline Cool Watermelon lipstick.

When it comes to the monetization of this phenomenon or other tangible values attached to such popularity, stock analysts aren’t necessarily seeing it:

“But praise in the blogosphere can’t guarantee a surge in sales of all those pencil skirts and cardigans. “Nobody needs another one-pocket tee or twin set or pleat-front skirt,” says Richard Jaffe, a retail analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus and Co. “Your closet is full of them.”

This feature on Ms. Lyons, when read in tandem with the CBS profile on CEO Mickey Drexler, provides insight into the business of fashion. More from the LA Times piece:

“The chief executive and the designer behave a little like a father-daughter team. Over lunch at Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, she tells him that “being back here even for one day, all my insecurities come back. Women here are in such great shape. Everyone is blond and beautiful. Girls are trying on bathing suits and coming out of the dressing rooms and I’m like, ‘Just stay in there!’ “

The story also  offers a look at select items from the Fall 2009 J. Crew Weddings & Parties line.

Lucinda Gown at JCrew.com

Lucinda Gown at JCrew.com

The dress is a poly/cotton/silk blend retailing for $2500.  Also shown, the cotton Erica dress in Cypress, a color available this fall.  (Note: our link connects to the current Erica dress, with most colors on sale for $99.)

Erica Dress at JCrew.com

Erica Dress at JCrew.com

And finally in our “J. Crews News section” this morning, word the company’s spinoff brand Madewell 1937 is launching a jeans collection deemed “… a bit more price friendly.”

Courtesy Photo via WWD

Courtesy Photo via WWD

This morning’s WWD (Women’s Wear Daily, subscription req’d.) reports on the new line, Madewell ’37s, focusing on a single “skinny skinny” jean available in five colors. Perhaps most importantly,the new jean will retail at $58.50; other Madewell denim starts at $78.

Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

As far as differentiating the new jeans from other ?

“The tag line for marketing the ’37s is “Cool jeans. Great price. We’ve got your back.”’

This article also quotes J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler:

“There’s a new world today. The denim customer is no longer trading up to higher price points. With customers giving us feedback and the marketplace changing, it was pretty clear there was a need to come out with a collection of jeans a bit more price friendly. Jeans at $92 to $110 represented the heart of the business.”

While we are not exactly the Madewell demo (cough-cough), it is good to see retailers being smart in pricing.

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Our final item today has *nothing* to do with either J. Crew Group or Mr. Drexler, not that we are Drexler-averse, to the contrary, we think very highly of his skills. We just need to chat about something else, don’t you think?

No, our next item involves a statement contained within this story in yesterday’s Times, a feature looking at the continued demise of the crossword puzzle, along with other puzzles, in many publications.

“The Atlantic’s Puzzler, which will take its final bow in September, and The New York Sun’s crossword are among the most notable recent casualties, in part because of their Ivy League street cred. (Let’s face it: the crosswords in TV Guide and People magazine seldom generate heat at Hamptons dinner parties.)”

“Ivy League street cred?” Now, TP adores her crossword puzzles. Nothing is quite as comforting as settling in with pen (it must be a very specific pen you understand) and newspaper, generally the Times, but we have been known to utilize others in a pinch. But we have never heard them associated with an Ivy, that is a new one for us.

Have you heard of such an affiliation in anyone’s mind previously? More importanly, do you use pen or pencil when you do the puzzle? When pondering how to best answer these deep questions, do keep in mind the world’s fate hangs in the balance. (Heh-heh.)

With this wackiness we say G’bye until next time!

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Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion