Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Second Coming of Khaki

On Monday afternoon, as the ballyhooed new designs of Gap’s fall collection by Patrick Robinson began appearing at its store on Fifth Avenue and 54th Street, a line of customers stretched well around the corner — at Abercrombie & Fitch, that is, two blocks away.

Fashion magazines have heralded the recent arrival of Mr. Robinson at Gap in reverential tones (he is actually called a “megabrand messiah” in the September issue of Elle), and the windows announce in big block letters that a “New Shape” is in store. But there has not yet been a seismic return of shoppers to a retail chain that stopped being cool around the time Abercrombie opened its doors with a reinvented brand.

Inside the Gap store, a few dozen customers were trying on $58 waffle-knit cardigans and blazers made of fleece. But for a better picture, one could stand outside on the street corner for 15 minutes and count shopping bags: 6 from Gap, 27 from Abercrombie on Monday; 8 from Gap, 38 from Abercrombie on Tuesday.

Reinventing Gap, the nation’s largest specialty apparel chain, has been fashion’s equivalent of Merlin’s stone for much of the last decade, as sales and profits have dipped, along with its image among young consumers. Mr. Robinson, 41, is the third designer to attempt to pull the sword since Gap began to publicly acknowledge its creative personnel in 2003, and the most closely watched because of his popularity with industry insiders and his finesse with casual American sportswear. His fall designs have generated promising reviews, but also concern about whether a single designer — one with a mixed track record — can revive a brand with 1,155 stores in the United States in the midst of an economic crisis.

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The above trench is from the new Fall collection and I am LOVING it!

1 comment:

Leslie Ann said...

I completely agree. Love the price point.