retail-me-not

Happy Monday everyone. I hope you all had an excellent weekend. 

I am warning you now:  I am starting this Monday off with a post that waxes some serious poetic on the current affairs in the world of specialty retailing.  Notably, the Gap logo situation and the launch the Club Monaco for Shopbop collection. You may wonder how these two seemingly separate ideas are related, but in my mind they kinda actually are. They both are examples and/or lessons in marketing in the online era (my college major). I couldn’t stop thinking about, stumbling across articles or blogs about, creating conversations around and/or overhearing others’ conversations about  the logo and/or the CM launch over the weekend (even my 86 year old grandmother called me up to ask me about this whole logo thing). So this leads me to want to extend the conversation here, on my personal online diary…

First off, I just feel a strong need to comment on this whole Gap logo situation, mostly because everyone else has. To be honest, I didn’t really care much about Gap’s logo at all, as even though I am a loyal customer, I don’t feel any emotional connection to their logo of all things. Rather, I care about things like ad campaigns, seasonal color palettes, and the clothes. I had no idea I was totally alone in my apathy until this past week when it has come out that apparently everyone and their mother cares about the Gap logo.  But since the Gap isn’t doing that well in terms of sales, I find it particularly interesting that people who aren’t buying anything in the stores have such a strong opinion on the logo. I obviously need a little help understanding since I’m so logo in-sensitive, so help me out here dearest readers, did you care about the logo change (and despite my personal opinion on the subject, I put no judgement on you)? And if so, would any logo change have bothered you, or was it the particular logo they chose? There’s an interesting question for the people of Gap, Inc marketing and branding…

At the end of the day, I think there is an important lesson in this Gap logo debacle (which brings us back to my overarching point of this post) which is that Gap’s biggest mistake (again, in my opinion) was not in trying to refresh the logo, rather it was that they seriously undervalued the power of the online community (something us bloggers value very much and know can be very strong).  I would like to ask the Gap, Inc marketing people if they ever looked to see how many fans they have on facebook (762,835) or followers on twitter (36,663). That’s a heck of a large free market research focus group, if you ask me. Shame on them for not figuring this out is all I have to say. How do they expect to be a major player in the business world now and in the future if they can’t be more forward thinking and keep up with where this century is headed? I hope this logo situation was a much needed blessing in disguise that opens their eyes to more creative ways of doing business. My issue with the whole situation is not the logo itself (as I said before, I don’t really care), but how they handled the change from start to finish-  it could have all gone done so much more smoothly and easily (and cheaply, as I wonder how much they paid fancy New York Ad firm to develop this logo). One post on their facebook page asking fans if they are open to a new logo, and bam, issue avoided. It’s all just a little disappointing  to me is all. So that’s my two cents on that, it feels good to put it out there. What are your thoughts? Feel free to agree or disagree…. And then, sometime soon, we can all forget it ever happened.

And if you didn’t hear, Gap went back to the old logo (on the right above).

Tangent: Speaking of Gap, Inc. did you hear that the former President of Old Navy, Jenny Ming, is the new CEO of Charlotte Russe (yes, that’s Charlotte Russe, the one you loved when you were 14 until Forever 21 took over)? She just moved the entire corporate offices from San Diego to San Francisco to basically start the whole thing over from scratch. The New York Times just ran a super interesting article about her plans for the company (read online here), which include treating it as a start-up. I personally am interested in seeing what she can do with the brand with all of the competition she has from the very strong Forever 21 and H&M, who both don’t seem to be going anywhere but up and bigger.

To continue my musings of the day, now moving onto the Club Monaco for Shopbop launch. Last week Shopbop premiered an exclusive Club Monaco shop on their site. The shop consists of a capsule collection of fashion-forward items specifically tailored to the Shopbop customer and not available in the Club Monaco stores. When I first heard about this shop, I was a little confused, yet also intrigued. Madewell did this years ago with Shopbop, however, they did it when the brand was very young and had only two stores in New York and L.A. and no catalog or online presence. They wanted to see if gals across the country were feeling for Madewell and they used the partnership as a little testing ground to see if it was an idea that they wanted to expand upon. They put clothes on the site that were part of their core assortment in the stores. Apparently it was successful, as now they have 20 odd stores and an online shopping site. The thing about Club Monaco that is kind of interesting is that they have 100 stores in upscale malls across the country, yet they launched a collection on Shopbop that you can’t buy in their stores, because it’s apparently not the kind of clothing their customer that shops in their stores would buy. Likely, they are not making very much money off of these items for sale on Shopbop (I assuming they are giving a commission to the site), so I think what they are looking for with this partnership is straight-up street cred. And I get that, hello marketing. Lucky for them, street cred and brand awareness amongst the young and trendy spend-happy fashion community is what they got (that community includes me). It seems like every major fashion blog was going crazy for the collection and buying it up left and right and inspiring their readers to do so too. And that, is pretty cool. I admire Club Monaco (or Mr. Ralph Lauren to be exact, he is their owner) for their panache and creative marketing (unlike a certain Gap, Inc). They went beyond their current customer base to try to reign in some new customers and they went straight to the source (that Shopbop is far-reaching and knows how to make a splash, ie: hip see-and-be-scene launch parties in NY and well- styled magazine-esque email lookbooks ).  I do wonder though, if the bravado around this Shopbop shop will  in fact create a halo effect over the core Club Monaco brand and create new sales for them. Because if these girls are loving their Shopbop exclusives – that are apparently a sharp departure from their core store assortment-  will they now go shop and spend money in the stores? That I don’t know…. and we shall see.

Of course, none of this philosophical fashion rambling takes away from the sheer cuteness of the collection. I couldn’t help but join in on the fun, so here’s my wish list from the Club Monaco for Shopbop collection…

Clockwise from top left:

1. Selina Dress  179.00   (I would layer it up to keep from looking dead, but I love the vintage slip look, always have, always will)

2. Fabian Chino 119.00

3. Isabel tee  249.00   (built-in jewels? where do i sign?!)

4. Sophie Blouse  119.00  (I call it the Cruella de Ville blouse because its dalmatian print, which i find very cute)

5. Anne driving gloves  79.00  (I seriously have been jonesing for a pair of short leather gloves lately, rock star/serial killer vibe hot)

6. Hannah Plaid Coat 295.00 (love the neutral plaid layout and the 3/4 sleeves which make the whole thing less overwhelming, plus it has a  shirt tail hem! why don’t more coats have that, it seems so practical…)

Now, if you’ve already purused the collection online and put together your very own wish list, I know what you’re thinking… what about that cheetah print coat? I know, I know… it’s tempting. But unfortunatly I am just not sure I could pull it off. Maybe if I was 5’10″ and 100 pounds and was totally comfortable looking like a big fur ball (and a Man-Repeller, you have to see this girls blog post, hysterical). The model sure looks cute, though.

So there you go. I have put all my thoughts out there for you to ponder upon. I hope you enjoyed it just a little bit.

And just so you know, I have a lot more fun posts coming up this week  (including one involving a tutu, can you resist?) so check back in.

ciao for now! <3