Its Tokyo fashion show having been canceled due to the Japan earthquake and its aftermath, Gap's Patrick Robinson showed the new Fall collection by appointment yesterday in the label's Tribeca headquarters. In that low-key setting, the designer pointed out some of the details he is using to help elevate the brand. With its black pants program well established, he's now employing menswear fabrics like Prince of Wales checks and pinstripes that look and (this is key) feel more expensive than their $79 price tags. Also new, an of-the-moment cropped flare that indicates Robinson is keeping his eyes on the runways. Proof that he's got his ear to the ground, i.e., the streets, is a new leather group. Calling leather "the new denim," he showed off leggings, five-pocket pants, a pencil skirt, and an A-line shift with a whiff of the sixties.
Rounding out the mix were "heritage meets modern" pieces, the kind of staples you expect from Gap, but with some surprising touches. The cables on a sweater were askew, the plaid button-down was sheer, and the khakis were denim-washed for a faded, lived-in look. As for the denim that the company is famous for, Robinson will show that in a more formal presentation later this Spring. The men's collection followed the same story lines; overall, the big news for the boys was a slimmer, closer-to-the-body fit. Some menswear designers have been experimenting with looser proportions on the runways, but slim, Robinson explained, is "what the guys are asking for."