The header says it. I won’t. I don’t. Not anymore.
My first ever pair of blue jeans were from GAP. In the late 70’s these were flared jeans of the requisite blue denim. As a penniless ( or paisaless ) teenager I’ve had my fashion challenges. Some of these have been documented, notably in the story The Coconut Oil Chaperone and The Date of the Jackal. Which you’ve read, I’m sure. God knows I’ve flogged those enough. In my early 20s I oscillated between destitution and abject poverty. All I had was the love of a pretty young thing. Who bought for me, once, a white cheesecloth shirt. Which I discovered was a woman’s blouse because it buttoned up the wrong way and had poofy long sleeves and was mildly see-through. But I wore it. With those GAP jeans. And cut a dashing figure in it too.
Such was the power of my sartorial sexiness. I shall now put up a picture of me in high-waisted flared jeans and a shiny polyester shirt from my University days. Also featured are the two-tone brown suede shoes. You may avert your eyes now. Don’t blame me later, for I did warn you.
Fifteen years later on my first visit to the US, I managed to snag a couple of shirts, on sale for about $6 or so at the GAP. A couple of years later as a penniless immigrant in the late 90’s I tried many times to replicate those first cheap shirts. But deals were hard to find. Instances where the “Real Dollar Cost” met “Customer’s Perceived Value” were hard to find. The shirts were still good looking, the khakis still cut well, the t-shirts were simple and easy.
But then, I noticed that the prices started to go up and the styles started changing. Not only that, I found the quality of the clothes themselves started becoming poorer. It hit rock bottom about 6 years ago when the GAP merchandise started resembling the items available at Old Navy, it’s cheaper sister. (Old Navy became even cheaper). The clothes developed that bedraggled look as if they were apologizing for being on the shelves at all. This went on for a few years and my visits to the GAP became less frequent and more frustrating.
I looked up the figures for GAP over the years. Clearly there is something wrong. GAP is becoming irrelevant. In 2012 it changed it’s failing strategy and the clothes now in the store are closer to the look and feel of the earlier years. The really scruffy stuff was switched out and GAP started to go back to it’s earlier base of products -shabby chic, semi-preppy clothes based on jeans / khakis and shirts. (I’m ignoring the women’s section because women’s fashion is just way too weird for me to comment on. I can only talk about my personal experiences.) And sales figures seem to reflect that. After a few years of flat/falling revenues, 2012/13 saw an upward blip. However, since then sales have once again started falling off.
I see articles on the business channels about GAP “Has GAP become irrelevant?”, “GAP’s failing strategy” and similar articles can be found easily if one uses Google. I have no experience in the fashion industry and very little in the business of merchandising and retail apparel. I can tell you, though, why GAP is failing.
Here it is. The real reason GAP is failing and the reason I no longer shop at the GAP.
The shirts are tight, too tight for me. The t-shirts are too tight, slim-fit seems to the only option. GAP has decided that it no longer needs to sell to middle-aged paunchy men, the men with the income, the baby-boomers. So the shirts and t-shirts are out. But that’s only 25% of the story.
The 75%: GAP is building it’s clothes for slim androids. And I can prove it.
The GAP pants ( all of them) are being made now with fly openings that are less than 2.5 inches long. And getting smaller every day. I looked it up. Apparently, modern young men are slimmer than ever and like to pull their pants down to pee. Like kids. And women.
And that’s why I won’t shop at the GAP anymore.