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Can COS Creator Rebekka Bay Make the Gap Cool Again?


Rebekka Bay

If you’re looking to add something basic to your wardrobe—a T-shirt, say, or a new pair of jeans, perhaps a light sweater for spring—chances are the Gap isn’t at the top of your list of places to look. Though it still generates billions in sales, the retailer has, over the last twenty-five years, slowly been slipping out of consumer America’s consciousness.

Bloomberg Businessweek profiles Gap’s new creative director, Rebekka Bay, in its latest issue, and while it seems the COS creator is a smart choice for reviving the brand, it isn’t clear what exactly the Gap should be. The headline “Can Rebekka Bay Fix the Gap?” makes it seem like bringing the brand back to its exuberant nineties glory is the answer. But if Bay’s task is to “Make Gap Gap again,” there better be a whole lot of people out there who want the Gap to be the Gap again, an as-yet-unproven proposition. That or this normcore thing better take off.

Bay talks about the strength of the American uniform—comfortable, functional, timeless clothes, like jeans and T-shirts—and her rules for creating a collection: “You need a very strong foundation,” she says. “You have boundaries, and you can only—and I’m kind of rigid about this—you can only work within them. First, you design the most iconic piece. Then you can maybe create a seasonal version of that. If anyone is going to go beyond that, I have to agree to it.”

What Gap does having working in its favor is scale—almost 1,700 stores in nearly fifty countries and sales of more than $6 billion, according to Businessweek. Unfortunately, for now anyway, savvy shoppers will be more excited to see a new COS store opening than a new collection landing at the Gap. Let’s see if Bay can change that.

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