Has J.Crew finally found a rival?This article is perfect with its timing. Why? Because the past month I have been shopping like crazy at the Gap! Where have I dropped my shopping significantly (as in, almost non-existent)? J.Crew. (So much, that when I stopped in last week, the J.Crew store associate asked me if I was going to buy anything! For those wondering, I did not.)
Gap makes big comeback with 61% profit increase (and some very familiar styling)
By Olivia Fleming
March 4, 2013
The untouchable popularity of J.Crew may finally have some viable competition. After struggling for years to reclaim its fashion status, Gap Inc. reported a 61% increase in fourth-quarter profits on Thursday, ending a strong year that saw the 44-year-old company's predicted comeback firmly accomplished.
And with a smattering of quirky spring prints (like the cat symbols on a boyfriend-style shirt), colorful outfit combos and the use of some geek-chic spectacles, it seems Gap's $133 million profit increase may be thanks to some strategic styling lessons from fast-fashion's reigning Queen bee, J.Crew.
While the company's latest performance includes the critical, and revenue-churning, holiday period, it seems its efforts to push brightly colored and preppy pieces, new designer collaborations and lively marketing campaigns have helped to invigorate sales.
The ...company, which also owns Banana Republic, Old Navy and now Intermix, posted increasing sales for all four quarters - with net income for the year rising 36% to $1.1 billion, up from $833 million. And revenue rose 7.6% to an accomplished $15.6 billion.
Gap CEO Glenn Murphy, very much aware of America's love-affair with J.Crew's sunny styling, eclectic prints and easy staples like chambray shirts and bright cardigans, told investors during a conference call: 'If you're going to win in this environment, doing the same thing all over again is not a winning strategy."
'We have to bring more and more uniqueness, differentiation and excitement to the business.' Gap earned $351 million in the quarter ended February 2, compared with $218 million just a year earlier. 'At the end of the day, we are looking at the consumer and saying we have to continue to give her reasons to buy,' Mr Murphy emphasized.
Revenue at Gap's North America stores which have been open at least a year, rose four percent - a key indicator of a retailer's health. But it hasn't been an easy climb back up. ...
Under Mr Murphy, who arrived at Gap in 2007, the chain closed stores and cut inventory to boost its profits. But shoppers still weren't buying the clothes; unless they were heavily discounted. Comparatively, shoppers have been more than willing to pay hundreds for J.Crew's offerings.
Poor fit, drab colors and unexciting styles hurt Gap, which has been floating between flimsy and cheap options Forever 21 and H&M, and higher-priced J.Crew, for more than a decade.
But the brand, as well as the company's other labels, appears to be striking the right chord these days. From staff changes to new ad campaigns and partnerships with other designers, it has worked hard to turn around its business. A few examples: Gap Kids partnership with Diane Von Furstenberg and Banana Republic's partnership with AMC's hit show Mad Men.
The company has also hired new talent. Gap brought back Tracy Gardner, a former J.Crew executive, as creative adviser, who made an imprint on holiday fashions. She worked at Gap and Banana Republic in the late Nineties. ...
The company also announced last October a management overhaul aimed at enabling it to respond more quickly, and cohesively, to changing tastes around the world. ...The company also formed a new innovation and digital strategy team, to further advance its social media efforts and online presence. ...
This article explains a lot of the positive changes that I noticed (but could not quite put my finger on) at the Gap! First, they are offering styles that are on trend again (like the color-block sweaters and brightly-hued khakis). Yes, they are not terribly fashion forward, but they are "classics with a twist". Plus, there are a lot of pieces that bear a striking resemblance to J.Crew. It makes a lot of sense now that I know the Gap has once again employed Tracy Gardner, formerly from J.Crew, as creative adviser.
40203) for $175. On the right, there is the Gap's Chambray Academy Blazer (item 351492) for $98 (more like $70 right now, using the promo mentioned at the bottom of this post). The price difference is pretty substantial.
Other perks to shopping at the Gap:
- I find the material used at the Gap (in general) is more machine-washable friendly and lasts longer after multiple use. (I am particularly referring to the Gap's tees and sweaters, in comparison to J.Crew's.)
- The prices at the Gap are about a half to a fourth of the price of J.Crew.
- There is always a great promotion going on at the Gap- so paying full price, even on a new arrival, does not happen often.
- Nothing online is "final sale"- making shopping worry free. Rarely anything on the store sale rack is final sale either, unless it is marked waaaay down (which should be the point of final sale... ahem, J.Crew).
- Free shipping has a low minimum of just $50 at the Gap. That is easy to get to, especially since you can include items from the their sister stores (like BR).
- Online reviews from customers help determine if an item is a "stud" or a "dud" before buying it.
- Gap offers store inventory for merchandise. It makes it easy to figure out if your store is carrying the item you are looking for.
Lastly, if any of you are interested in checking out the Gap, they are running a great promo right now... Take 30% off your entire order (full and sale priced!) with promo code SPRINGAIR. It works for Banana Republic and Old Navy too. It expires March 5, 2013.
What are your thoughts on the article? Do you agree/ disagree with any points made? Have you been spotting the look-a-likes at the Gap & J.Crew? Have you been shopping at the Gap more lately? If so, please share!