Despite plenty of woes, Gap insists it hasn't lost sight of talent, as it gives three new designers a big break.
"We are absolutely invested in emerging talent. Part of us has always been about celebrating young designers," said Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America, in an interview Tuesday. She elaborated on Gap's new limited edition collection for women called Gap Design Editions, which will be created by Doo-Ri Chung, Thakoon Panichgul and Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy.
Starting April 17, the collection will be sold in 100 larger Gap stores. It will be supported with advertising in The New York Times, Vogue, a WWD cover wrap, and store windows. It's a small step and one of many by Gap to help spruce up its tired image.
"We are being opportunistic," Hansen said. Asked if designers with bigger reputations might be recruited as guest creators, Hansen replied: "I would not rule out anything."
The project for these designers was simple — create white shirts, which the chain has been selling for 35 years. "It's the perfect iconic item," said Hansen.
The designers won't have their names on the products, but will appear in ads and in collateral materials making them readily identifiable to customers, Hansen said.
The project is an offshoot of Gap's partnership with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund announced last month to introduce up-and-coming designers to a broader audience by arranging for winners to design limited edition pieces for Gap.
Last fall, Gap tapped Roland Mouret to create a capsule collection of dresses, but this newly announced quartet stands to have a broader reach, thanks in part to a print and outdoor advertising campaign featuring Stella Tennant, Liya Kebede and Carmen Kass, and shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Clearly, the San Francisco-based chain is not skimping on talent even though Gap Design Editions, or GDE, will only retail from $68 to $88. Gap is said to have donated more than $1 million to the fund. Further fastening the connections among the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and the retailer is Vogue's May cover, which has a gatefold featuring all nine GDE styles.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"