Gap is Closing 175 North American Stores

Apparently, once beloved basics have become boring basics.

Gap announced yesterday that it would close 175 stores (one forth of its stores in North America) in hopes of revitalizing the brand in the wake of slumping sales. Of these 175, 140 will close in the current fiscal year, which ends in January. The closures will leave the Gap brand with about 500 specialty stores in North America. The company’s 300 outlet stores will remain open.

The number of Canadian stores set for closure is unknown. What is known is that the company plans to do an overhaul of its fashions to improve its apparel. Because, basically – as the company admits – people just weren’t feeling it anymore.

Of course, the move will affect thousands of jobs. Though it didn’t give figures on the amount of store employee positions would be lost, company also announced that it would eliminate about 250 corporate jobs this year at its headquarters in San Francisco, New York, and other locations nationwide. The corporate cuts are thought to make it quicker and more decisive.


So, what went so wrong?

Compared to its heyday – a time back in junior high when we all owned a pair of Gap khakis and an accompanying jean jacket – the company has struggled in recent years to keep up with the changing times. Meaning, there’s not as much love for the casual, preppy, basic look.

It makes sense. Now, when our everyday lives are documented on social media, most people – especially millennials – want to look anything but, well, basic.

This is especially true when you can snag detailed, fashion-forward, and inspiring pieces for next to nothing at stores like H&M and Zara. Not to mention, ones that will pop on camera for all those Instagram shots.

Speaking of H&M, Gap’s 2012 hire of Danish fashion designer Rebekka Bay – who was known for her COS minimalist clothing line for H&M – didn’t go too well. It seemed her thing for greys and blacks contradicted the brand’s traditionally colourful, all-American style. Bay was let go from the company this past January, and they eliminated her previous position as creative director all together.

Though the company had big plans for its new vision, don’t expect to see immediate improvements within the walls of your local Gap store. The changes may not become visible until next year, because the label’s buyers had already ordered a bulk of the styles before recent changes in leadership happened.

Either way, the results should be interesting. I just hope they don’t go too far in the other direction – Gap is still my go-to for denim shirts and plain white t-shirts, after all.