By  on April 18, 2007

There appeared to be little fevered frenzy over the launch of Gap Design Edition on Tuesday, but company executives were nonetheless pleased with consumer reaction to the collection, which is being sold in 100 stores nationwide.

"We've had a pretty amazing customer response to the collection," said a Gap spokeswoman, referring to the limited edition takes on Gap's iconic crisp white shirts by Doo-Ri Chung, Thakoon Panichgul and Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy. "Several of our stores have pretty much been a mob scene today, including [in Manhattan] 18th Street and Fifth Avenue, 42nd Street and Broadway and Fifth Avenue and 54th Street. Women were peeling the shirts off the mannequins, trying to get the last sizes, which is pretty exciting for us. I heard customers were heading to stores further uptown to try to get away from the crowds."

Design Edition is available in a majority of Gap's Manhattan units.

The men's area of the Gap unit on the corner of 59th Street and Lexington Avenue was quiet and women's, on the second floor, was only slightly busier. Several racks of all-white Design Edition merchandise were featured at the top of the landing flanked by large black-and-white images of the designers with models. A trio of sales associates hovered around the display, waiting for customers.

"I think it's nice when a designer takes risks," said Sarah Ecton, an administrative assistant, who left empty-handed. "Some of the pieces I liked, but some I felt were very constructed for streetwear. I don't know about some of the necklines. Today, I was just looking."

Vivienne Nakash, who reports on fashion trends at retail for a hedge fund, was taking photos of Design Edition displays in the windows. The hedge fund wants to keep Gap's latest developments on its radar, she said. Despite being on the job, Nakash bought the petal-skirt dress and tie shirt by Thakoon and the bow-pocket dress by Rodarte. "Everything looks kind of similar, so how much are you going to buy?" she said. "I never buy anything at the Gap. I go to H&M. It's a lot more fashion-forward. I don't know how much of me was drawn to Gap by the designers. A lot of people thought the designers weren't well-known enough."A 35-year-old who described herself as a former merchant for the Gap and declined to give her name, said she bought the Doo.Ri scarf shirt. "I looked at the belted dress but didn't like it," she said. "The collection was great. It's a different approach than the Gap usually takes. It's more fashionable and fresh. The white is very fresh and it's good quality."

One customer complaint about Design Edition was that the clothes are cut large. Small sizes were in limited supply at some stores. On the Web site, the Doo.Ri pleated shirt and belted dress, Thakoon petal-skirt dress and Rodarte trapeze shirt and bow-pocket dress were sold out in sizes extra small and small. The Rodarte bow blouse was sold out in sizes 0 though 10. The spokeswoman said that sizing for Design Edition is true to the regular Gap sizing.

Meanwhile, the Gap store on the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street featured the black-and-white ad images on its exterior, as well as a large print of Vogue's May cover with 10 emerging models in pieces from the limited edition collection. Three vignettes of mannequins in the white clothes welcomed shoppers on the main floor, and the line was sold on three racks in a central area in the women's department on the second floor. At lunchtime, the store was relatively quiet, and only about 10 women were rifling through the Gap Design Edition racks. A sales associate said there was a definite interest in the pieces across the board, though

Doo.Ri's designs appeared to be selling slightly better than the rest.

Joyann King, 24, who works for Glamour magazine, bought all but three pieces from the entire Design Edition line. King said all three designers offered great staples, but highlighted Thakoon for offering particularly beautiful pieces. "I tried on everything and it's amazing," she said. "The collection is beautiful, but it does run big."

Kristine Ocampo, 34, said she was familiar with the three designers and definitely considered them the draw for the collection. "The styling is great and the price points are not too high," she said. "And the quality is not so bad either."The collection retails from $68 to $88.

The Gap at the Hollywood & Highland shopping center in Los Angeles is selling Design Edition items by Thakoon,

Doo.Ri and Rodarte, but an hour after opening, a sales associate said no one has specifically asked for the limited edition pieces. "But it's too soon to tell how well it's selling," he said.

A sales associate at the Gap at The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles said the store sold a few pieces from the Thakoon and Doo.Ri collections within an hour of opening, adding, "The weather here is so gloomy that there aren't many people out. I think this weekend will be crazy busy."

The project is an offshoot of Gap's partnership with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Gap became a partner of the fund earlier this year, having made a $1 million contribution.

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