High School Flashback, Brought To You By The Gap

I can’t think of a more miserable thing to be doing right now than to be working atop a roof right now.  I say *right now* because, well, it’s been one of our coldest days to date and as I type this it’s 35 degrees.  If you count in the windchill factor, however, the temperature drops down to a really uncomfortable 26 degrees.  And as the sun sets at its little odd angle over the southwest, the roof workers make me cringe a little.

Then again, having a job beats not having one.  So I recant my statements a little.

If I were a really nice person, I would have even made them some cocoa– but I guess I’m not.  Well, okay.  I just thought of it right now, but I think it would also be really weird to pop out of nowhere and offer people who are working at some random house hot chocolate.

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Earlier, and taking advantage of Herr Meow’s nap, I started to paint a small piece of wood that will help house our little wine refrigerator.  Sounds a little weird, but it’s a Monsieur Meow project and, well…. I had the time and the paint, so I went for it.  As I painted over today’s Post’s business section — thinking to myself that I probably wouldn’t need it– an article happened to catch my eye.  So in between strokes, I tried to read, reminding myself that brown paper bags would probably be a better dropcloth for the next time.

The article in question is about the Gap.  (If you’d like to read it, click here)

Yeah, that Gap.  You know, the iconic store that is as much a part of any and every mall as the hordes of teenagers that mill about them.

Only that the Gap is in trouble: despite all the media buzz it’s tried to create –first desecrating Audrey Hepburn and later trying to convince the world that a red t-shirt can make you an AIDS awareness activist– the company is floundering, plunging into the depths of uncoolness from which it came, and might possibly be up for sale.

Only… seriously?  Who’d buy the Gap now?  Fsh– probably Federated stores will snap it up and turn them into evil little mini-Macy*s  where everything is on sale now ALL the time.

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I remember when the Gap was the coolest store EVAR.

When I was in high school, only the popular kids were ever hired at our local Gap.  Everyone loved the cool, preppy clothes and dreamed of minimalist navy blue shopper bags.  Every item was a classic– well-made, sturdy and, most importantly, dripping of cool.  And then Sharon Stone showed up to the 1996 Oscars wearing a black Gap turtleneck and the coolness of the Gap made it through the awesomeness roof.  The Gap… not just for teenyboppers, but also for anyone who wanted to look glamorous and make it almost cavalierly easy.

Of course there were always the dorkwads who tried too hard and would always manage to find the one item that somehow negated the coolness of the Gap effect.  And then there were the rich kids who could afford the better colors, fit, and feel of the Banana Republic stuff, and who wouldn’t talk to you anyway. 

But back to the subject at hand: Gap back in the mid-’90s was as cool as Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister are today.  And by the way, Hollister merits a digression: Hollister?  Hollister?

I mean, could they have chosen a –with all due respect– LAMER California town?  Why not call it "Lemoore" or "Glendora" ("Pride of the foothills") then?  And they are trying to package this little surfer dude/dudette lifestyle that is just so über awesome and laid back but…. Hollister????  I mean, when they were doing their research, did the marketing geniuses realize that HOLLISTER, CALIFORNIA IS INLAND AND THEREFORE HAS ONLY SURFER WANNABEES, WHICH IS POSSIBLY THE LAMEST KIND OF PERSON YOU COULD EVER BE (excepting the Beach Boys, who were indeed surfer wannabees but at least they could sing)?????????????

(Although everyone knows that poor Fresno, California IS the lamest town ever, thanks to the fact that the poor unfortunate dear had to be the birthplace of K-Fed.  But enough dogging now.)

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So back to the Gap.

It’s crap.

Plain and simple: the Gap is crap now.  I used to love the Gap and would fiercely defend it in the way that you can only defend those things that you’ve felt have been a core component of your identity for a long time.

I still have my cashmere blend lavender coat with the chartreuse lining that is warm and awesome and beautiful and still fetches compliments.

I still have a couple of 3/4 sleeve stretch tops from there that rocked, and still look okay– thousands of washes later. 

I still have a couple of toasty warm turtlenecks, because they were standard issue back in the ’90s, kids.

And, naturally, I still own a pair of jeans from the Gap.  Because the Gap used to do jeans right.

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Used to.
Nowadays you walk into any Gap and the merchandise is piled high on tables.  It’s chaotic and frenetic, even when there is almost no one in the store.  Next to the everyday staples –which nowadays you can (and do) get for cheaper at suddenly-trendy Target or …. pretty much anywhere else, really– you find one-offs and weird amateur-designer-night vomitus kind of stuff.  There are pants with pockets in stupid places and sweaters that only look good on mannequins and cheap-looking parkas now.   The cottons are cheap; the prints are kind of dated; the fabrics are flimsy; and all but a few items have been kind of done before.  How many times can we bring back Indian chic and call it "revolutionary" anyway?

The Gap is a gap within itself, and deep within that chasm is its former identity.  I see many 30somethings there trying to shop in vain, next to 20somethings who can still pass off for Abercrombie and Fitch material and usually just comb the clearance rack before leaving.  And then there are the youngish parents shopping with their teens –who, if they weren’t stuck shopping with their parents, would not be wasting time at the Gap but running as fast as they could to… er… Hollister (*suppresses chuckle*).  The cool teens don’t even bother: they are already sifting through the racks somewhere else, seeking out a better trend.  Either that, or they are definitely not wasting time at the mall, because the mall is for desperate amateurs who don’t have a boyfriend who drives.

_______

The Gap abandoned the age group that worshipped at its doors– the late-20- and early-30somethings– and tried to appeal to everyone.  And well, when you try to kiss ass to everyone, everyone ends up thinking you’re a lamewad jerk pushover with no personality.  And that is why the Gap sucks, people.

That and because they still charge $60 for jeans that are no longer cool.  The bastards.

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This entry was published on January 10, 2007 at 7:32 pm and is filed under Pop Culture, Soapboxing. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “High School Flashback, Brought To You By The Gap

  1. love the post. very well said. in a previous life, i was a gap manager for 6 years (about 5 years and 364 days too long) and i witnessed every which way the company had tried to get out of the hole. i’m not surprised that the hole has gotten deeper. the merchandise is just crap now. i haven’t even stepped into a gap store since the day i quit. i refuse to buy anything from there…except my boyfriend’s undershirts which i can get online for him, thereby passing on the horrible store experience.
    i do heart banana republic though!

  2. Patrick on said:

    You are dead right. The Gap makes ugly and cheap clothes and charges a lot for them. And the worst part is, I live in a town now that doesn’t even HAVE a Gap. I long to be disappointed, but instead I can only dream of dissing them. And then, every once in a while, when I dream of winning the lottery AND inventing a time-machine to take me back to my distant youth, I think of dressing in Lacoste clothes. From head to toe and even underwear and overpriced socks. Nothing says “my father owns a big fat yacht, my mother is Euro-trash, and someday I will own a plantation in Africa” like Lacoste – oh and “my tanning booth is called Ibiza”.

  3. You’re absolutely right.
    I also get what you mean about Hollister. I’m originally from California and if anyone was smart enough they would realize that Hollister, CA is a farming town! Fresno is the worst city there, I agree. My grandmum lives there and there is a reason why I never visit her.
    But yes, the GAP should just die gracefully instead of trying to live on.

  4. *chuckles* It’s easy to tell the difference between an American and a Canadian. To an American, anything under 40 F is cold while to a Canadian anything over 40 F is hot.
    If you think 26 F is cold you haven’t tried -11 F weather.
    I wouldn’t know about the Gap, never been in it.

  5. I’d never heard of Hollister before I read your post. I am so not trendy.
    Is it just me, or did the price of jeans double overnight a couple of years ago, at the Gap and everywhere else? I remember being able to get a decent pair new for $30. Maybe I’m just stuck back in 1993.

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