inspiration gap

So Gap popped up on our shores late last year in December, after having spent years as being this myteriously alluring American label that had such cool ads and was hopelessly unavailable in our sunny corner of the tropics (unless you trawled through factory outlets to find hideous reject tees or flew to the States regularly).

But as I had expected (having hopped into Gap to a look when I travelled and browsed through the webbie), Gap is boring, and overpriced for the quality. Bags that are priced $280 should not look so "Far East" okay? $59 for a tank top should not look so Giordano. And why is a badly cut, over-clingy, frumpy-length jersey shirtdress $119?

With Topshop sitting above the Gap boutique at Wisma, Zara down the road on the right and Mango a few steps down the left, Gap was decidedly unexciting, and obscenely-priced for the make. The ads always make me want to go in for a look, but the actual clothing on your body is such an uninspired disappointment. After all, if it's a matter of clever styling, then why should I be compelled to shop there?

But maybe all is not lost -

Thakoon, Doo.Ri and Rodarte have been tapped to revamp a Gap classic - the white button-down, and so far, it actually looks pretty promising. This is what I want to see from Gap - classic, basic stuff, not trendy, but with design element in mind. Something more reliable than disposable fashion, but with personality.

It's an elusive quality far easier to describe than actually carry out, but labels like Uniqlo, or even Muji, have managed to churn out sweater after sweater and button-down after button down with just enough details and variations in cut to keep things interesting and sharp.

Hiring these designers - much less about trend and hype and more about design - is a positive step for Gap. Instead of having them step in and create watered-down versions of their aesthetic, it's more interesting to ask them, 'What's your take on a white Gap shirt?'

And get the quality right. Clothes priced in this range - $119 for a skirt, $89 for a simple cotton blouse - needs to be better-made. Even H&M can do better for less.

Maybe Gap is finally getting inspi(red), the way they've been preaching on those annoying Product Red T-shirts?

Picture by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vlnoodh Matadin for The New York Times at


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