the gap between europe and the states
Went shopping today (sort of, it was mainly to catch up with friends), and on a whim, we passed the Gap store at Wisma and went in, and I must say, there were actually a few things I wanted, or at least, wanted to try on. I've read on and off about the Gap collection in Europe and how Phoebe Philo (formerly of Chloe, sorely missed, will be back soon, no doubt) and Marie-Amelie Sauve (stylist for Balenciaga, oodles of personal style) consult for the brand there, and I've been wanting to see the stuff for myself - the runway pictures below are really promising (and prove a side point that it is all in the styling). It was a pleasant surprise that I actually spotted one or two pieces I think came from the "Limited Edition European Collection" (now available on the American Gap website). I wonder why Gap bothers with making a distinction between the collections Stateside and in Europe. The Europe collections are slightly trendier, but to my eye, they still adhere to the Gap aesthetic of updating and perfecting basics. And the American collection (now helmed by Patrick Robinson, once of Perry Ellis and Paco Rabanne) apart from having an unnecessarily large assortment of hoodies and mumsy Empire-waist dresses, would fit in quite seamlessly with the European pieces - the grey dress below is an example. According to a post on Fashion Inc by Lauren Goldstein Crowe, Gap sales are up 30% in Europe, but down 10% in the States. Interesting that in Singapore we are sort of getting a mix of both, and fortunately too - the brown shift with the pleated neck and the navy button-front jersey tunic are winners in my department, the sort of stylish basic you can build a look on that Uniqlo does so well. Considering that Uniqlo was launched to such great fanfare last year in New York, Gap really ought to rethink their strategies and consider their competition. Still, I thought the collaboration with CFDA to reimagine the white shirt was a big step in the right direction, and I also like their "Classics Redefined" ad campaign with stars like Lucy Liu and Selma Blair this season - it sums up their strengths and their niche in the crowded fashion market, sort of classy and reliable and universal but still hip. Being a huge fan of well-made basic stuff, I have all these great hopes that Gap may well turn out to be place I turn to for my staples, instead of just being purveyors of those whatever Gap-logo tees. Other weak points to work on - the price points. At their prices, the quality of the fabrics could be so much better (I cite Uniqlo again, if they can do it, so can Gap), and can the Gap Singapore staff please steam-iron the clothes before displaying them?