If Patrick Robinson Made the Gap So Great, Why Does No One Shop There?

From left, the display at the store’s entrance; the display downstairs.Photo: Amy Odell

So everyone’s raving about Gap’s new designer, Patrick Robinson, and all the really great things he’s done for the chain’s clothes and branding. Indeed, how many times have you seen or heard about their new celebrity ad campaign, starring Sean Avery, Liv Tyler, and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld? But, as Eric Wilson notes in today’s New York Times style section, the customers aren’t exactly flooding in with the same gusto that fashion folks are lavishing Robinson with praise. Like this one:

“I just about died when I went in the store,” said Jennifer Black, the president of Jennifer Black & Associates, a research company focused on the apparel industry. “I don’t know how traffic’s been, but from an aesthetic perspective, I think it looks great. For me to be taken aback is kind of a big thing.”

Come to think of it, we haven’t actually set foot in a Gap in ages. Have the company’s stores become as inviting and amazing as Black says? Should we allot some of our H&M shopping time to the Gap? There was only one way to find out: We went shopping. We know — our job is hard. But the source of Gap’s problems hit us as soon as we walked in — the store displays are actually not that great. Things looked dowdy, pants were wrinkled, the lighting was bad, and the music wasn’t fun. It didn’t make us want to shop. And if we don’t want to shop, there’s a problem. So Gap, get some brighter colors in, buy some steamers, and play happier music. And call us if you need any more consulting, okay?

Wrinkly, wrinkly, wrinkly. Photo: Amy Odell

The best-looking table in the store.Photo: Amy Odell

Stop with the belting!Photo: Amy Odell

If Patrick Robinson Made the Gap So Great, Why Does No One Shop There?