LOS ANGELES — Forth & Towne, the new Gap Inc. apparel concept geared to women over 35, is in growth mode for fall.
Gap said Wednesday there are plans to open about 10 Forth & Towne stores in five new markets: Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco/San Jose and Seattle. Specific locations haven’t been set.
“These new markets represent a high concentration of where our customers reside,” said Gary Muto, president of Forth & Towne. “We’ve been pleased with the reaction so far. We’re relatively new, and we believe we have something innovative.”
There are now five Forth & Towne stores: The first unit opened in August at Palisades Center Mall in Nyack, N.Y., and four stores subsequently opened in the Chicago area.
Asked if Forth & Towne was created to help remedy declining sales of the Gap brand, Muto said, “I think, for us, the concept was really about a market opportunity and less about Gap Inc.”
Products for the concept are priced between prices at Gap and Banana Republic stores. Pants range from $50 to $100; blouses, from $48 to $80, and jackets, from $70 to $200. Sizes range from 2 to 20, a generous span that taps into yet another underrepresented market, said Austyn Zung, executive vice president of design and product development for Forth & Towne.
“A team of people here realized that there was such a lack of stylish clothes for more grown-up women at this price point,” said Zung. “At the collection level of design, they seem to do it really well — they realize that the money is in this more grown-up age group. But at the mass level, no one is doing a really good job of bringing well-designed fashion to this group of women.”
Forth & Towne stores are about 10,000 square feet and carry four labels specifically manufactured for the concept. Zung characterized the Allegory brand as “tailored femininity”; Vocabulary as “eclectic style, with embellishment and embroidery”; Gap Edition as “fresh, casual American style for a more grown-up woman,” and Prize as “trend-conscious.”
Each store features a circular “fitting salon” in the middle of the space that features three-way mirrors and adjustable lighting. “Style consultants” advise customers on accessories and alterations. “We’re looking at this as more like a store from the 1950s, like an old Chicago department store where customers get an excellent styling experience,” said Robin Carr, director of media relations.
Forth & Towne is the fourth concept from Gap Inc., which operates about 3,000 stores internationally under the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands. Fiscal 2005 sales were $16 billion, compared with $16.3 billion in 2004.