Behind the scenes of Fashion Week, the Gap is creating a big push to woo the next generation of shoppers. They’re sending in a strange-looking drone to provide aerial views for marketing campaigns. They’re using virtual reality to create clothing demonstrations. There are Facebook Live giveaways, Instagram Live-based fashion shows and an Instagram Live-based catwalk competition. The New York Times once wrote that the crowd of show-goers inside the tents at Bryant Park during Fashion Week was considered the fashion industry’s equivalent of the crowd at QVC — people “fully aware of what they are looking at, but less sure of how they are looking at it.” The Gap seems to be bringing the same audience into its tents, and eventually its stores, to promote its brand. They have a lot riding on the strategy, too, if they want to keep up with competitor H&M, which has more fashion credibility and that empire-building popularity that the Gap is always fighting to escape.
The move doesn’t seem to be working. After hitting a peak after Gwyneth Paltrow showed off her own personal collection in the late ’90s, the Gap has lost almost all of its market share. Gaps website hits have never recovered after a big drop during the recession, and their sales have never recovered since. Fashionweekandapres.com, a website that charts all runway and street-style events, notes that while H&M made a bit of a comeback last year, its “big style boomers” — or parents of pre-teen fashionistas — may be tiring of their style. It’s a big risk for the Gap to pit itself against QVC, and former employees tell the Times that some top executives are concerned that the designer-created fashion shows look too trendy.
“Bilbo Baggins in a six-piece ensemble … You can’t do that in New York.”
But there could be big payoffs. The Times notes that the drop in retail sales also coincides with an uptick in buying trend-ready clothes at the Gap’s off-price stores. If QVC can catch on with a generation of millennials, it’s possible that Gap sales could revive soon.
With all this attention, the Gap probably just isn’t used to getting that much attention from the media. It’s unclear whether the drop in sales is due to a drop in fashion taste, the lack of cool fashion at the Gap, or just a dip in customers. But it does seem that the worst is over.
Read the full story at NYTimes.com.
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