Mickey Drexler | The magic of merchandising

Mickey Drexler is probably the most famous merchandiser in the fashion world. Merchandisers are known for their magical ability to combine art and science, analytics and gut feel, experience and predictive skills. Over twenty years, Drexler built the Gap into a bonafide worldwide business from a struggling 400-store regional chain, using his product and merchandising skills and a 20-piece wardrobe that he kept on a list in his drawer while middling it out in other roles that didn't inspire him. I came across this conversation from earlier this year between Mr. Drexler and Charlie Rose, one of America's most respected and talented interviewers. Charlie Rose says he "wants to go to school" on Drexler's experience -- which exactly what he…

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The Gap and Zara | A tale of two brands

So it's official. As of the first quarter of 2008, Inditex, the phenomenally successful Spanish fast-fashion conglomerate and parent company of Zara, has officially overtaken The Gap to become the world's biggest fashion retailer. In the meantime, the once venerable Gap is still tweaking its product around the edges, struggling to find a formula that works. Zara stores have been popping up on high streets and in malls around the world, registering  a whopping €6.3b in sales in 2007, making it larger than Louis Vuitton. Perhaps more surprisingly, the performance of Inditex's smaller brands like Bershka and Massimo Dutti has also been strong, registering revenues of €925m and €696m respectively, in 2007, making Bershka's business larger than that of Christian…

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Gap: American slump, European bounce?

Earlier this year, the Business of Fashion visited a Central London outpost of the Gap, one of America's most well-known high street retail chains. We left sorely disappointed with the product, the slow pace of change of collections (the opposite of 'fast fashion'), and the deep discounting that created detrimental expectations in the minds of Gap's core consumer base. Then, a few weeks later Paul Pressler was booted out of the CEO suite, a swift reaction to the  financial results achieved under his tenure.  To say the least, things have been looking pretty dismal indeed. The bad news continued when the Gap reported yet another decrease in overall same-store sales today across its three brands, dropping 7% versus last year…

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Mind the Gap?

Big fashion business news Stateside last week were the dismal sales results of Gap Inc, the venerable American high street retailer that also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic. December 2006 like-for-like sales were down 8% versus 2005, which in turn were down 9% versus 2004. In the same period, many other retailers saw an increase in sales versus last year. Of late, the Gap has been struggling to recapture the heady days of growth and market dominance it enjoyed in the late 1990's. So, what gives? How did the Gap lose its way? The arrival of European retailers like Zara, H&M and Mango has surely played a big part. These retailers, who quickly copy catwalk trends and produce them…

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