Gap is all over the news today. The front page of this morning's WWD reveals that Gap Inc’s chairman and CEO, Glenn Murphy, has cleaned house at the brand.
Marka Hansen, the former president of Gap North America, was sacked and will be succeeded by Art Peck, president of Gap Inc.’s outlet division and executive vice president of corporate strategy. And, Ogilvy & Mather Wolrdwide is the new ad agency for Gap. (That means Laird + Partners, the label's longtime creative agency, is out.)
Pam Wallack, currently president of Gap Adult North America, will become executive director of the new Gap Global Creative Center, based in NYC. In a move reflecting Gap’s serious need to attract more creative talent, the Global Creative Center will function as a central headquarters for design. As WWD points out, it’s probably easier to find design talent in NYC than in San Francisco where the brand is currently headquartered.
Gap's creative director, Patrick Robinson, has definitely done his part in improving the design and image of Gap. The second free-standing 1969 store just opened today in NYC. The first is in LA. These stores are meant to highlight the two-year-old Gap spin-off brand 1969, to offer pieces that are currently in Japanese and European Gap stores, and to be a showpiece for the “cool, sexy part of the brand,” as Patrick Robinson mentioned to me at the opening of the store this morning.
Patrick envisioned the store as a “denim destination.” After spending a lot of time in the LA 1969 store to watch how people shop, he decided to put the dressing rooms in the middle of the store (private, of course) because “people want to network when they buy jeans. People would come out and want other people, not just the sales team, to tell them how they looked,” Patrick told me. “I want to look at your ass in the pair of jeans and know that you look good in it. It’s that whole interaction you have when you’re buying clothes now.”
The 1969 stores will carry exclusive product and be a laboratory of sorts for new styles and washes that may later end up in Gap’s main stores. Patrick’s currently excited about the skinny flare, wide-legged trousers, as well as a lighter-wash, pleated skinny slouch, which would pair perfectly with a bikini top and a beach. The stores also have an interactive iPad station and are staffed by “Jean Experts.”
As far as all today’s Gap business news is concerned, Patrick had this to say: “It’s the right steps that we needed to do. I’ve had design teams that sat in all different countries. I moved them all back to NY so that we could have them all in one place, and this is the next evolution of that. It’s the right thing for this brand at this time. We are a major global brand and we need to start thinking about that as we move forward.”
[Full disclosure/Ed. Note: Cheryl got a free pair of jeans at this morning's event. Were super jealous.]