2013, Gap’s year of “global brand structure”
Last year the group opened 75 new Gap and Banana Republic stores. This year the theme is a new international structure. Such ambitions for the group are emerging simultaneous to the evolution of the Gap's style under the leadership of its new creative director.
As reported in FashionMag in November, Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic now each have their own management tasked with their separate international development. Art Peck, president of Gap North America, is now only in charge of Gap but across different markets. And while Gap Inc. intends to expand into Brazil and Peru in 2013 and into India in 2014, the group is also in the process of strengthening relations with its partners.
“In December, our franchise partner FIBA launched a new e-commerce site in Turkey to supplement the merchandise offer of Gap and Banana Republic stores across the entire country. It was a big step forward for us. This is the first time that our relationship with a franchise partner has developed into a line,” said Stefan Laban, senior vice president of Gap International. He is also happy about the results in the new markets. “This was clearly a year that generated a lot of miles. And in my travels, I am fascinated by the excitement and buzz created by our store openings.”
But in addition to organizational developments and new markets, the Gap brand is also reaping the benefits from the hiring of its new creative director Rebekka Bay. Buoyed by the success of her experience with COS for the H&M group, she assumed her duties at Gap in September, filling a nearly yearlong vacancy created when Gap put Patrick Robinson on leave. The first collection under Bay's direction is scheduled for spring 2014. Meanwhile, her influence on the lines is already apparent.
“She works closely on the presentation of the collection and its key signature pieces. She brings an authentic point of view,” explained Fiona Collins, senior PR director for Europe. “For example, she pushed us to be confident enough to present a simple jeans and t-shirt outfit. Because that's what Gap is ultimately. Rather than trying for a glam look, we are going toward something fresh and clean. It is also an opportunity to evolve the way we communicate. But it is still too early to discuss that.”
In charge of the women's, men's, 1969, accessories, and “body” collections, Rebekka Bay’s mission is to give Gap a new creative impulse, an area in which the two giants H&M and Zara are already far ahead. Gap's international ambitions also include making headway in the European stronghold of these two companies. “When you look at the activity of other brands such as Zara, you see it is huge in Europe, but very small in North America,” said Fiona Collins. “We are almost a reflection of this. We have this very strong activity in America, but in Europe, we are still very small. So there are huge opportunities.”
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