Gap has had a bad year in terms of sales. Through the entire year they have reported a decline in store sales on year on year basis. Unfortunately, it does not seem that they have been able to identify the problem. Just three months ago the retail chain had fired the top business-side executive overseeing its Gap division. The logic at that time was that faulty merchandising was responsible for the faltering sales. It was not design but how the items are presented in the stores was first diagnosed as the cause of the decline in sales.
The diagnosis has changed in the last three months as Gap announced on Thursday that it had dismissed its star designer, Patrick Robinson. It is an acknowledgement from the company that the problem is not as simple as they had declared three months ago. It is obvious that they can’t solve their problems by reorganizing their display in the stores. The analysts and the experts in the market also agree that a design revamp is absolutely necessary to put the brand back on the road to recovery. Robinson’s successor has not been named as yet but whoever takes up the job has a tough job at hand.
Gap Inc., which includes Old Navy and Banana Republic, has apparently neglected the existing brands and focused more on the newer Piperlime and Athleta stores and international growth. Patrick Robinson had come to Gap in 2007 with a rich experience of designing for such fashion heavy weights as Paco Rabanne, Perry Ellis, Giorgio Armani and Anne Klein. On top of that he was nominated for the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America award. His wife, Virginia Smith is a Vogue Editor and that helped him get onto the Glamour and Teen Vogue doling out styling advice. Robinson said that he wanted to take the classic, iconic heritage of the company and make it relevant. But Gap seemed to lose its relevance as newer brands and competitors like Abercrombie & Fitch and J. Crew, and fast-fashion brands and luxury brands like H&M and Zara adapted better and quicker to the changing trends.