More Bad News For The Gap

After Kanye West announced the end of the Yeezy Gap partnership, the three-letter brand has announced the elimination of jobs as margins shrivel

Gap has been stricken with one bad news after another, all in less than three months. In July, reports emerged that the Indian-born Canadian CEO Sonia Syngal was dismissed after a mere two-year tenure, with Bloomberg describing the move as somewhat unceremonious: She was “fired after failing to rescue struggling retailer”. The Gap has not announced a replacement. Then last week, the announcement that “Gap and Kanye West are Ending their Partnership” was made by The Wall Street Journal. Few people were surprised by that news. And now The Gap has said that they would be laying off staff—up to 500 corporate jobs—in offices in San Francisco, New York, and in Asia. Was Mr West’s bowing out timely for The Gap?

It has been speculated that the once-loved San Francisco brand was not terribly thrilled with what Ms Syngal had done, including signing up Mr West to bring about Yeezy Gap, and that what she put in place was taking too long to see real results. Ms Syngal was previously with The Gap’s sister brand Old Navy, having arrived at Gap Inc in 2004 with no background in fashion (before that, she was with Sun Microsystems and Ford Motor Co.). Yet she was considered to be instrumental during the family-centric Old Navy’s admirable height of success, escalating the brand’s revenue to more than double The Gap’s. But just because she was able to realise the potential of one sibling did not indicate that she could bring to fruition the aspirations of another.

Just because she was able to realise the potential of one sibling did not indicate that she could bring to fruition the aspirations of another

For a while, The Gap as a fashion player has been languishing. The world has basically moved on and on, and without The Gap’s washed chinos and straight-legged jeans, and, most definitely, their logo-ed tees. Did the 53-year-old clothier ever consider that their all-American fashion, often described as “laid-back style”, has lost considerable appeal, especially since Donald Trump took office in 2017 and the US is a different place. But critics say that The Gap’s lost its punch even earlier, in 2004, a year before Uniqlo, who does American laid-back better then the Americans themselves, opened their first store in New Jersey. That year, when a chap Mark Zuckerberg launched The Facebook (later shortened to Facebook), The Gap scored Tommy Hilfiger alum Pina Ferlisi to tweak the retailers offerings so that things could look up again after two years of decline. Few remember The Gap from that period and later, and the brand continued to fizzle.

When they had Mr West onboard in 2020, it was thought that The Gap finally took a close look at their merchandise, and realised that a major refresh was desperately needed, and Mr West was their guy even when his own Yeezy clothing line was not the epitome of brand success. So convinced they were that they signed a 10-year deal with him to birth Yeezy Gap. But the first year was not all rosy for the new brand. News emerged that back of house, things were messy. Mr West’s pal Demna Gvasalia was called in to help and very quickly Yeezy Gap was “Engineered by Balenciaga”. Despite the added edge, it is not clear if the collab is making pots for The Gap. But one thing is obvious: many shoppers did not like buying merchandise out of bulk bags. Rapidly, Mr West revealed that he wanted out and had his lawyers make it happen, claiming The Gap did not open Yeezy Gap stores as they agreed to. According to Forbes, “Gap president Mark Breitbart immediately shot off an email to all Gap Inc. employees suggesting it was a mutual decision”. Still, it appears that Kanye West had The Gap in his grasp. We’re not near a cliffhanger yet.

File Photo: SOTD

Fendi Goes Green

Not quite, but there’s that green and not any green

To be sure, there are other colours in Fendi’s spring/summer chromatic proposals, but it is that green that bothers us. Two weeks ago, Kim Jones dabbled with the blue of Tiffany for the resort 2023 collection. They appeared on clothing and accessories. That particular blue is so associated with the brand that it bears the name of the company. And it is so identified with the retailer’s boxes and paper bags that it’s hard to imagine it for boiler suits and, harder, for the Baguettes. Yet, the colour was used sufficiently. And now for the Fendi RTW, there is that what-do-you-call-it green. To be sure, this does not have the same visual impact as Bottega Veneta‘s eponymous green, introduced under former designer Daniel Lee’s tenure, during the spring/summer 2013 show. Still, it perplexes us, especially when a model in a pair of platform slides in that green nearly fell and, out of her own safety, decided to remove them, and hold them in her hand. Are they uncomfortable slides? Are they hard to walk in? Is it the green that should be on kindergarten walls, not clothes or footwear?

If a bright green is not your thing, there is that pink. It is not a Barbie pink or a Millennial pink. It is one that could be considered grown-up pink perhaps, not too sweet, with just the right amount of brightness that, like the green, would draw attention, or stop traffic. In fact, the green and the pink (some call it flamingo) remind us of those used to distinctively colour Tyvek wrist bands—the ones cuffed on you to identify you as guest, paid or invited, at festivals, raves, or private events. And then there is the blue, the final of a trio of key colours. The blue is not as eye-catching as the other two—somewhere between lapis and Miranda Priestly’s favourite cerulean (after the Tiffany blue, they do not need another that bright?). These colours give the pop to an otherwise rather neutral palette, one that perhaps underscores the wearability of the collection. If the clothes are a no-brainer, then perhaps the colours could pique?

Kim Jones most definitely created many wardrobe friendly pieces with the 66-look collection. These are clothes for the pandemic-over world, when you are out and about, when you want to be dressed to mark a return to fashion and fashionable company. For quite a while we’ve been confined to not just our cheerless existence, but our drab clothes. With our social life back in full swing, the clothes must reflect that too, with more than a hint of the late ’90s and what we increasingly identify as models’ off-duty looks. Easy cardi and combat pants: How not off-duty are they? To be sure, there are on-duty looks too. White shirts under sweaters and teamed with slim skirts: How not on-duty are they? But if you are a socialite and that your duty is bound to that, there are plenty to delight those who desire a fashion language to communicate with those who might benefit from the knowledge that the wearers they are looking at are rich.

But if you need that message to be loud and clear, there is always the double-F logo of Fendi. Designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld in 2000, the broad, blockish, almost brutalist logo was primarily used as a buckle for accessories. But these days, they can appear anywhere, as seen in the resort 2023 collection, staged in New York to celebrate the 25th year of the Baguette, a bag that was wildly in demand also because of the double-F buckle. This time, the oblong metal with the two short lines within appears on straps to secure pocket flaps. But if that hardware is just too subtle, even obscure, how about sweaters with hems that can be turned from inside out—and up—to reveal another version of the double-F logo followed by the rest of the letters that spell Fendi. Perhaps that is more confidence-boosting than a shot of colour.

Screen grab: Fendi/YouTube. Photos: Fendi