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NEW YORK — David, meet Goliath.

This story first appeared in the September 6, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Gap, the $15.8 billion behemoth, has been trying to demonstrate that it’s not just about khakis and jeans and trends for the masses.


Colette + Gap, a temporary boutique at 680 Fifth Avenue and the corner of 54th Street, is a step in that direction. The pop-up shop, a collaboration between the iconic and iconoclastic Parisian fashion boutique and Gap, bows today and will remain open through Oct. 5.


Gap has launched collaborations with others in the past to bring excitement and exclusivity to its stores, such as the Design Editions collections in April — white shirt interpretations by Band of Outsiders, Michael Bastian, Philip Crangi Jewelry, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Threeasfour. Another effort was the Artist Editions T-Shirts in May, a limited edition collection of cotton Ts designed by contemporary artists such as Chuck Close, Jeff Koons, Kiki Smith, Cai Guo-Qiang, Barbara Kruger, Kenny Scharf and Hanna Liden.


Both of those projects were sold in many, if not all, Gap units. Colette + Gap products will be sold only in Gap’s rotating concept store adjacent to the Manhattan flagship.


“We tried to recapture the spirit of the Paris store,” a Gap spokeswoman said, referring to Colette. “This space was just remodeled and will be used to showcase the most interesting fashion and also culture. Colette is the inaugural installation in the remodeled space.”



Colette + Gap’s white walls are decorated with typography stickers of letters of the alphabet. An illustrated construction motif — cranes lifting shipping crates, the American flag and boxes with the Colette: Paris and Gap New York logos — appear on walls and products. A yellow-and-black-striped border, resembling warning tape used in construction zones, is a decorative element in the shop and incorporated into products such as customized Post-It notes and pads priced from $10 to $15.

The store features exclusive Colette merchandise as well as limited edition Gap T-shirts printed with work from artists. Some of the T-shirts were started by artists in Paris and finished by other artists in New York. They cost $40. Artist-embellished Gap products are called les musts de Gap, having been reinterpreted with a French touch, the company said. The classic Gap trench, for example, is given a hip Gallic attitude by Andre, the graffiti artist who draws stick figures with toothy grins and mismatched eyes on the jacket and signs the belt. Olympia le Tan reinterprets the jean jacket, embroidering the word “Dreamer” on the back.


A gray Gap sweatshirt becomes something entirely different in the hands of Clements Ribeiro and Karen Nicol, who customize the garment with a clutch of beads, sequins and other baubles for $225.


On Friday afternoon, the doyenne herself, Colette, was dressed in her own gray sweater and skirt worn with striped high-tops. “She’s here for the launch,” said her daughter, Colette buyer Sarah Lerfel. “The Gap proposed this temporary space to do something for one month. For us, it was fun, like an exhibition. We took it as a challenge. I know people are over collaborations, but if it makes sense, I’m for it.”

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