The brand is trying out a new strategy that’s worked wonders for the cool kids.
There are plenty of brands that release limited-edition, logoed-out items and charge premium prices for them: upwards of $90 for a T-shirt, and almost $200 for a hoodie. It’s just that most of these brands are clustered in your city’s cool downtown area and not next to the Auntie Anne’s at your local mall. This is the bread and butter of every successful streetwear brand in the world—and it’s also the model Gap is adopting for the release of its Archive Reissue–Logo Remix collection that launched online over the weekend.
The collection includes a handful of patchwork T-shirts and hoodies, plus a selection of one-of-a-kind items made by stitching together different pieces from the Gap archive. Gap notes on its site that all the items in the collection are either “one-of-a-kind” or at the very least “limited edition.” Think of the Gap as tapping into the same fervor streetwear brands use during their weekly drops: buy this item now, or else it might be gone forever. We might not see Supreme-sized lines wrapping around the mall anytime soon, but this seems to be a recognition that what Supreme and brands like it are doing is something that can be scaled in a way that it pays dividends for a brand like the Gap. And it’s not that the Gap hasn’t experimented with smaller hyped-up releases in the past—the Best New Menswear Designer collections that Gap does with this very magazine are a prime example. But while those collections take designers and premium brands and make them mall-friendly, this is a mall-friendly brand making its own merchandise premium.
Streetwear is enjoying the sort of mainstream success it’s never had before. Investments firms are throwing money at brands like Supreme, A Cold Wall, and Huf—and now everyone wants a piece. Louis Vuitton collaborated with Supreme, and more brands are experimenting with the type of “drops” that are only loosely tied to seasons and keep inventory low and demand high.
That's just how fashion works in 2018: everything is streetwear now, down to the types of style that are included in this particular Gap release. Jordan Brand reissues or retros its sneakers from the '90s. Why shouldn't Gap do the same?
Even the model and song used in the collection’s delightful marketing campaign—one of many Gap’s released over the decades—feels pointed. Gap has always used cool people in its campaigns (Future, LL Cool J, even freakin' Daft Punk) but hip-hop producer Metro Boomin's appearance—dances around in pieces from the Gap collection to a song he remixed—feels charged. The producer typically wears brands like Supreme, Givenchy, and Anti Social Social Club and has a built-in following of people who like streetwear. Now, Gap is the cool kid on the block—just ask Metro.
Last year, when Business of Fashion wrote about how brands could benefit from drop system, Stussy’s head of marketing Ryan Willms noted that the technique keeps excitement high among customers. And while Gap will always need to keep its reliable money-makers like jeans and tees around in high quantities, this collection gives the brand a chance to release its own kind of grails.