Gap jeans go premium in move to fill style gap
By Alexandria Sage
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Gap Inc, once the go-to U.S. retailer for jeans, is betting on a major revamp of its self-branded denim line to revive its cachet and sales.
The relaunch of men's and women's denim, which one analyst estimates could account for 20 to 30 percent of Gap brand sales, comes near the tail end of a two-year turnaround effort at the apparel giant.
Gap is hoping its new, more stylish array of better-fitted jeans -- which began to appear in stores on Wednesday -- will lure back shoppers lost to a host of rivals in recent years. Its message, "Born to Fit," is carried by a digital and print marketing campaign.
Denim, which has the power to draw in store traffic, is a cornerstone for the 40-year-old retailer, which helped make jeans and T-shirts an acceptable casual uniform for American society.
Gap, which includes the Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, battled weak sales even before the U.S. recession but has been trying to put its house in order. It has trimmed costs and streamlined operations -- successful efforts that boosted margins but had little effect on revenue.
"Since 2007, the focus was on cleaning up the business model, returning the brand to one sold at regular price, managing expenses, and looking at the real estate strategy," said Gap North America President Marka Hansen.
She described those efforts as "infrastructure work at making the brand healthy," which paralleled moves to improve design and merchandising within different product areas.
The new denim line is the culmination of a year and a half of re-engineering Gap jeans to focus on fit, while making them more stylish and premium. Continued...