It’s tough times over at Gap Inc., which also sells Old Navy and Banana Republic brands. Just yesterday (Feb. 25) the company reported sales had dropped nearly 7% in the most recent quarter. One problem highlighted by CEO Art Peck on a call with analysts is so basic you have to wonder what’s going on in the design department.
Here’s what Peck said:
“So we just had huge quality misses. Literally places where whether it was fits or the quality of the fabrication, it made the product very difficult to wear. I think I’ve cited this before but blazers in Banana Republic women’s assortment where it was extremely difficult for the average woman to actually get her arm into the armhole.”
Leaving aside the issue of what size the designers believed the average woman to be, Peck was being honest about the “style misses” he said dragged down the company’s sales. Banana Republic went too far “trying to lead on fashion and trend,” he said. Their customer “does not want Banana to be that.”
It’s not entirely clear who the Banana Republic, or Gap, customer is now. Women and men who want fashionable, on-trend clothes are increasingly buying from H&M and Zara, which cheaply imitate runway designs. Those who want basics turn to Uniqlo, or upgrade to higher quality labels, such as Everlane.
Peck was optimistic about the product coming into stores this spring and summer. Given heavy competition from other brands, he can only hope his new clothes don’t include blazers with miniature armholes.