Gap has announced it will close 175 of its US stores and fire about 250 people at its headquarters, confirming what anyone who regularly visits the stores has likely noticed: it’s getting ugly.
That’s harsh, but true—and Gap’s CEO Art Peck essentially said as much on an earnings call in May. “Product acceptance at Gap in the women’s business has been tough and we’re focused on making it happen,” said Peck. “I continue to be disappointed, but not surprised by Gap’s performance. We have had a women’s business challenge now for several seasons running, I believe we have diagnosed it correctly having to do with being off-brand, in some cases off-trend, and I can promise you that the team is all over it.”
Design-wise, that means falling into line with the company’s new creative team, headed by Wendi Goldman, formerly of the now-shuttered C. Wonder; and Steven Sare, who most recently was chief merchandising officer at Uniqlo. It’s likely that Gap will start to look a little more like both of those brands, in terms of both its design and production process—as well as Old Navy, which is thriving under the Gap umbrella.
Peck has promised an “American optimism” will permeate throughout the women’s collection, and that a corporate restructuring will speed up its production time.
Gap, based in San Francisco, isn’t the only mainstream US retailer struggling with its women’s business. Just last week, J.Crew announced the dismissal of its head womenswear designer, and laid off 175 employees.