22 April 2005

Go forth and multiply.

International clothing retailer Gap has finally officially announced “Forth & Towne” is the name of the company’s new women’s apparel retail concept. We got wind of this a couple of weeks ago when I was in New York, talking to various fashion industry insiders. It comes as no surprise that Gap, along with many other retailers, are looking to target an older and more wealthy demographic, the Boomer.

According to Forth & Towne President Gary Muto, the name was chosen because “we wanted it to evoke a sense of place - to signify a special and unique shopping destination.”

'Forth' references our fourth brand, and 'Towne' conveys a sense of community that we want to create for our customers when they shop with us,” added Muto.

Unsurprisingly the intention to develop the new brand was announced last year. It’s intended to target women over the age of 35, a rapidly growing segment of the population. Apparently this group’s spending power accounts for about 39 percent of all US (we assume) women’s total apparel expenditures.

However, we also understand it’s really Gap Inc’s attempt at targeting women closer to 55, the mind-numbing Boomer market.

We’re not sure of the validity of being so self-referential as to name your new brand after the fact that it’s your Fourth (alongside, Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy) and we’re not so sure of the idea that 'Towne' will create that old special feeling of an old city style neighbourhood department store, especially since Gap-like stores helped push to closure these very same neighbourhood department stores by locating to edge of town malls.

Still, they are trialling the concept in four locations in Chicago and New York. And that’s for starters.

Gap Inc also announced that they trying to refocus the old Gap brand into something more “fresh and relevant”. They’re even looking at franchise models as they continue their international expansion (think China). Our recent experience is that it’s hard to even find a good t-shirt in the store. James Perse having long ago taken that mantle from the Gap stores by doing it so much better.

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