Gap’s iconic white shirt is getting a new life this spring.
This story first appeared in the March 17, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Next month, Gap will be bringing back its Gap Design Editions limited edition program, having enlisted 3.1 Phillip Lim, Band of Outsiders, Michael Bastian, Philip Crangi and Threeasfour for the program’s second round.
The initiative, part of Gap’s partnership with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, featured Rodarte, Thakoon and Doo.Ri last year. This time, it will also incorporate men’s wear and jewelry, and widen its distribution to include Gap adult stores in Canada, the U.K. and Japan.
“We were very pleased with the launch last year,” said Gary Muto, president of Gap Adult. “It is centered around encouraging new American design talent and bringing it to a broader audience. There are a lot of emerging designers and it’s become a crowded field, so we said, ‘How do we celebrate the creativity and use our size to announce the new talent?’”
Gap, which has been challenged by store traffic and merchandise problems, is hopeful the initiative will help drive traffic back into stores.
“We have taken a classic iconic Gap item,” Muto said. “It is redefining a classic and hopefully, it is appealing to our customers, and customers who may not have shopped at the Gap in the past, or haven’t shopped [there] in a while. It broadens the reach.”
This edition, Gap took more of a strategic approach. Where the 2007 initiative went to about 80 stores, there are elements this year that will go to all units in the U.S. For instance, Muto said the designs of Lim, who was a runner-up for the 2007 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, will be more widely distributed. (CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Rogan already had an agreement with Target, which prohibited the label from participating in this collaboration.)
Each designer worked with Patrick Robinson, executive vice president of design for Gap Adult and GapBody, to put together their pieces.
Lim created four pieces, including a tie-neck shirt, a bell-sleeve ruched shirt and a layered sleeve top, all at $78.
“My goal was to bring the complexity and playfulness of a woman’s essence without compromising the perfect simplicity of a classic white shirt,” Lim said.
Band of Outsiders designer Scott Sternberg created a patchwork tunic for $88. “I wanted to patchwork a bunch of traditional white-on-white men’s shirting fabrics together, like a madras patchwork, but all white, bringing a sense of imperfection and an artisanal quality to the shirt,” Sternberg said.
Threeasfour’s Gabi, Adi and Ange designed a camisole for $78 and a cutaway dress for $88. “We were looking to find a balance of the three major elements involved: white poplin, Gap and Threeasfour,” Gabi said.
Adi added, “We chose to do an easy summer dress and a little asymmetric top that translate our signature seaming and vision [for] a wider audience.”
Bastian, meanwhile, studied his own design vocabulary to come up with his designs for Gap, which include an epaulet and a Western shirt for men, both at $78. “There is a good skinny military shirt I have never weirdly done in white poplin, and I also always do a Western shirt, with that little Western detail on the shoulder and back with a pleated formal shirt fabric,” said Bastian, who also did a women’s style.
Crangi’s task was to create jewelry for the project, and he came up with such looks as a white or black wide resin cuff for $45. “My approach was to find out what is the most basic component of the Gap aesthetic and evolve the design from that,” Crangi said. “I worked with the idea of a primary palette and basic shapes.”
The shirts will be available at Gap Adult stores from April 15. Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin shot the Laird + Partners-developed print campaign, featuring the designers with models Chanel Iman, Jessica Stam, Lily Donaldson, Du Juan, Catherine McNeil, Anya Rubik, Doutzen Kroes and Irina Lazareanu.
Gap will kick off this year’s edition at a party hosted with the CFDA and Vogue on April 14. The event will take place in a raw space at 620 Fifth Avenue.