Gap Promises It’ll Sell Clothes You Actually Want To Wear By Next Spring

Change is in the air at Gap Inc., which has been struggling to attract customers lately in the crowded retail arena of mid-priced clothing. After announcing in June it’d be closing 21% of its U.S. stores by January, for a total of 175 locations, the company is promising that it’s starting to turn things around, though changes won’t be immediate: by next spring, the company says it’ll have clothing people actually might want to buy.

Gap has seen sluggish sales recently as it tries to find the sweet spot for customers (and no, clothing for “normal” people wasn’t a good move): The Washington Post notes that the retailer’s second-quarter earnings were far from impressive, prompting Chief Executive Art Peck to reassure investors and customers that things are about to get better.

During a conference call to discuss those earnings, Peck said shoppers will see the difference in Gap starting early next year.

“I’m not going to stand up at the plate and call which fence we’re going to hit it over,” Peck said. “That’s not who I am. But I’m confident that Gap will make significant progress in spring and very pleased with what I’ve seen in the women’s assortment and the turnaround in the women’s assortment.”

Peck took the reins of the company in February and has admitted in the past that the flagship brand’s clothing just isn’t stylish, and that customers are unhappy with the quality and fit of items. That’s something they’re working on, Peck adds, saying Gap has been “resolutely focused” on getting the fit of its jeans and other bottoms right.

Shoppers should see the results of Gap’s labors in the spring line, Peck promises.

Part of the change will stem from Gap’s new supply chain, which uses a technique called “fabric platforming,” WaPo explains: a company might buy a large amount of fabric and then, instead of using it all for say, a style of skirt, it could just decided what pieces to use it for as it sees fit. One type of fabric could then be used to make pants, or a shirt, for example. Old Navy, which is also owned by Gap along with Banana Republic, already uses this strategy and it’s worked for that brand.

Peck says this tactic will allow Gap to tweak its clothing line-up in the middle of a season — if a new trend pops up that it wants to get in on, it can change its tack and churn out a new line.

If he needs any other tips, our readers had a few suggestions back in 2007 for then-new Gap CEO Glenn Murphy.

Gap is promising you cuter clothes by spring [Washington Post]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.