Women’s Wear Daily broke the news this morning that after fourteen years at Gap, creative director Dennis Leggett has left the company. Mediocre sales performance in recent years was cited as a reason for the split.
“June was a difficult month with lighter traffic than we anticipated. Looking ahead, we remain committed to our goal of driving top line sales balanced with ongoing operational discipline,” Sabrina Simmons, CFO of Gap Inc. disclosed in their June sales report press release.
Sales remain relatively flat, year-to-date net as of July 3, 2010 up just 5% over last year’s negative numbers. Gap Inc. includes Gap, Piperlime, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta brands, each of which have seen flat to slightly positive returns over the same fiscal period last year.
So what does the future hold for the San Francisco retail juggernaut? Is the American icon made famous by its basics simply too basic? Has the Gap drifted from its core values? San Francisco resident and Gap customer Brittny Ward points out that “their jeans always stretch out; they never stay the same shape.”
Frustrated shopper Gillian Mohlman feels “like it’s more of a store for short people. I can never fit properly into their jeans because my legs are so long. . .” Shouldn’t a store first started to simplify the hunt for denim be able to get it right? Mohlman also notes that “They are expensive. But they do have really cute and reasonable kids clothing.”
“I created Gap with a simple idea: to make it easier to find a pair of jeans. We remain committed to that basic principle.” Don Fisher (1928-2009)
The passing of Gap co-founder Don Fisher last September was a great loss to the community, though highlighting the indelible mark the pioneering businessman and philanthropist left on the city. Calder to Warhol: Introducing the Fisher Collection is on display at the SF MOMA until September 19th thanks to Mr. Fisher’s legacy of generosity. The MOMA is presently ironing out plans for a possible expansion in order to permanently house the sizable collection of modern art.
The Fisher family helped carve the business landscape of the Bay Area. Gap’s importance to San Francisco’s fashion industry is tantamount to that of the community at large. Hopefully the company will perfect their inner workings and brand identity once again and continue to provide jobs both in San Francisco and worldwide for another forty years. Bets are on that the San Francisco mainstay has some staying power.