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Gap Europe to Focus on U.S. Designs; Retailer Disbands European Design Team

A small team of designers based in New York will focus on Gap?s European collections, and will report to Patrick Robinson.

LONDON — Gap is counting on Patrick Robinson’s designs striking a chord with a global audience.

Anita Borzyszkowska, vice president of public relations for Gap Inc., said Monday that the company would no longer employ a European design team based in London.

“The collection in America has evolved to become a bit more directional and fashion forward,” said Borzyszkowska. “With economic conditions difficult, it makes sense to leverage that rather than duplicate [collections].”

Now, a small team of designers based in New York will focus on Gap’s European collections, and will report to Robinson. Borzyszkowska declined to confirm how many employees worked on the European design team. She added that those employees currently working as part of the design team in London will have the opportunity to interview for positions in New York. Some marketing staff based at Gap’s London offices also have lost their jobs. Borzyszkowska said the news was revealed to Gap employees last week. It was reported in London’s Sunday Telegraph over the weekend.

Stylist Marie-Amelie Sauve, who consulted on Gap’s European collections and GapBody’s global collections, will continue to consult for GapBody global, Borzyszkowska said. Karl Templer will continue to consult for Gap’s adult collections. Borzyszkowska declined to comment on whether former Chloé designer Phoebe Philo also will continue to consult for the company, saying Gap had never commented on Philo’s reported role there.

The collections sold in Gap’s European stores last fall were the first to be fully designed by a European team. Another spokeswoman for Gap said the company’s North American collections would be carried at European stores from summer 2009, and that the North American collections would have fully transitioned to Europe by spring 2010.

Borzyszkowska said that, in terms of the company’s design collaborations, Gap would decide on a collection-by-collection basis which markets future collaborations will launch in. Gap will unveil a collaboration with Paris boutique Collette at its concept shop in Manhattan in September, and earlier this month launched a capsule collection of shirts made from Liberty fabric at selected Gap stores in the U.K.