The Gap sucks.
About a year ago, feeling tired of the show business grind and a little short on libertarian principles for working at a non-profit (and boy do they mean it), I was offered a position at American Eagle. Not a shopper myself, being an endless snob about such things, but they'd just topped $2 billion in sales, and they were offering a lot of money. So there I was. Third interview. Sitting in an office with the corporate recruitrix and the VP, Operations. This was to be my primer on company organization, strategic plans, and finances. It's a bad sign when they hand you the same gaudy stack of bullshit that they distribute as prospecti to their jackass shareholders and rubber-stamp board. "If you turn to page three . . ." The guy's office had no windows. The door to the hall was open. American Eagletrons clad in their enforced casual attire strolled by in goddamn flip-flops and cargo shorts. Now I like the casual office, and I'm a jeans man myself, but who wears cargo shorts that isn't playing frisbee on the quad at lunch. (True story: American Eagle employees . . . play frisbee on something very much resembling a quad at lunch.) This was all a terribly eye-glazing experience, but I did manage to absorb a little bit of information, and then Veep asked, "So . . .?" trailing delicately into the question mark. I told him as noncomittally as I could that their revenue numbers looked good but that they probably had too many stores, too much square footage, too much overhead, too many over-saturated markets in near suburbs of mid-sized cities. He nodded, then:
"That's why we've got this new concept."
It's called Martin + Osa, and as you can clearly see, it sucks balls the way I suck balls when they're attached to a nineteen-year-old gogo boy who wants a little oral before he'll give up the other side. It is, as best I can figure, an attempt to sell slightly nattified Land's End gear to the unfashionably fashionable junior associate lawyer and his PR manager wife, who live beyond their means in a loft not quite so many steps beyond Ikea as they imagine, the husband an experiment in pseudo-grungy metrosexual revanchism and the wife pretty. Just pretty. This is all wrapped in a crystalline gauze of post-material environmentalist hack chic, with skis and dogs and mountains and a 2-year-old Beemer and "Everyday Life Adventures" and, lord knows, a host of other post-yuppie lifestyle-but-not crapola spun up for people who once picked up an issue of Nylon, once went to Vail, and otherwise do indeed just shop at the mall and enjoy a post-shopping dinner of ratty Lo Mein at P.F. Chang.
A nightmare beyond all nightmares, and doomed to failure, because this person does not, in fact, exist. This couple does not, in fact, exist.
And that, my friends, is the sad tale of the second tier fashion industry. It's doomed to failure because taste is fickle, affluent consumers don't want it, kids cna't afford it, and running 150 retail stores costs too much fucking money. They Gap and Banana Republic will not recover. American Eagle will soon be on the decline. Americna Apparel has a shelf-life as long as Williamsburg hipsterism, which means that it's got another year or two.
And that's why it's a goddamn shame about the department stores.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The Gap sucks.