Three’s a charm.
This story first appeared in the June 3, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
That’s the number of fashion designers who have created limited edition collections of men’s and women’s apparel and jewelry exclusively for the Gap. The designers — Monique Péan, Patrik Ervell and Sophie Theallet — were winners of this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition and their designs will make their debut at an event today at a special pop-up shop at the Gap’s concept store at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street in Manhattan.
“I think it’s really cool that there are three [collections] covering men’s, women’s and jewelry,” said Patrick Robinson, executive vice president of design for Gap. He credited the designers with creating “amazing interpretations” of Gap’s iconic classics that will serve as a “window” to the high-end fashion industry for the Gap customers. “I love the idea of bringing these brilliant designers to a wider audience,” he said.
The looks created — flirtatious dresses, skirts and tops for women; modern blazers, T-shirts, jeans and button-down shirts for men, along with eco-friendly necklaces and bracelets — blend each designer’s personal vision with Gap’s classic signature.
Although generally higher-priced than most merchandise found at a Gap store, each designer stressed the efforts they made to keep the prices down.
Péan has been producing socially responsible and eco-friendly fine jewelry since 2006. For her Gap collection, she worked with artisans in Colombia and used sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as naturally shed buffalo horn, coconut, buri twine and organic cotton to produce 12 styles of jewelry. “They mirror the design and organic direction of my fine jewelry,” she said.
Péan noted this is the first time she has produced jewelry in quantity since her fine jewelry collection features one-of-a-kind pieces. “So, it was a challenge but it was really exciting, too,” she said. Prices are $248 for a necklace with dyed coconut beads and buffalo horn and $198 for a twine and bone bead necklace.
Ervell, who is also a nominee for the Swarovski Award for Menswear from the CFDA, said his “starting point was the fond memories I have of growing up in San Francisco where Gap is from.” For his men’s wear collection, he worked to “tap into the simple classics” that speak to the core of the Gap. “I’ve boiled archetypical men’s garments down to their essence,” he said.
For example, he produced jeans in a railroad stripe denim ($248) that are based on workwear designs, but feature “a more modern cut.” Button-down shirts ($188) feature his signature mother-of-pearl buttons, and blazers that look like tweed are actually constructed from unrefined silk yarn ($298). “They all feel very Gap to me,” he said.
Theallet said she was inspired to “make beautiful dresses that would give [a hint to the Gap customer] what Sophie Theallet is all about. They’re easy to wear and they’re happy and colorful for summer.” The designs are not far afield from those in her regular line, but are constructed from fabrics with a “more accessible” price, such as cotton. The finishing is also different and is produced by machine rather than by hand. As a result, a gathered top dress or a ruffle-tier dress are $248, a tie-front dress or a skirt is $198, and a tie-front top is $148.
She said the collection should appeal to everyone from a young woman to a grandmother. “Every piece can be worn in a different way,” she said, noting the tops can be worn with Gap shorts or the skirts with a simple Gap T-shirt.
The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund was established in 2003 to help emerging American design talent find success in the fashion business. In addition to cash prizes of $200,000 to the winner and $50,000 each to two runners-up, the award includes mentorship from a panel of industry professionals. Gap has been a sponsor of the program for four years. The collections will be available for sale beginning today.