Love: The Gap

the gap, ethical companies, minimum wage, fashion brands, spring 2014, warmest snowsuit

The Gap Spring 2014 collection.

My attempts at living a minimalist life aren’t just about buying less, but are also about buying smarter. When I decided I wanted to massively reduce the amount of things I own and buy, I also decided I needed to stop buying things that weren’t produced by ethical companies. It is quite extreme to make a statement like that, but I am trying to be realistic. Ethics don’t need to mean everything is made by a fairtrade women’s collective in Africa. It can mean an independent retailer, a company like American Apparel who gives their workers paid holiday, or a brand who manufactures in a country that whose minimum wage is a fair living wage.

the gap, ethical companies, minimum wage, fashion brands, spring 2014, warmest snowsuit, rebekka bay

That meant no more Walmart (no big loss there), Joe Fresh, Primark, and Old Navy – which is fine by me. But Gap was a tough one to give up, for two reasons. First of all, they make great kid’s clothing, and the BEST down winter jackets and snowsuits. I’m addicted to them and I have several for the kids. I can’t afford a $300 Canada Goose down jacket but I can definitely afford an $80 one from the Gap (which you can throw into the washing machine. WIN.) Secondly, Gap changed creative director and the spring collection looks great. Rebekka Bay was the creative who launched COS, my favourite “non-luxury” brand, and now she works at Gap. When I went to their press day, I feel in love with some of the t-shirts and jeans. It’s like someone waved a magic wand of cool at Gap, and suddenly it is exactly the brand it should be: simple, easy, good looking basics.

the gap, ethical companies, minimum wage, fashion brands, spring 2014, warmest snowsuit, rebekka bay

So I was thrilled to hear a few weeks ago that Gap has decided to raise the minimum wage of all of their employees. A retail strategist described what will happen next: “Gap will have higher retention, higher productivity, higher shopper satisfaction and will continue to increase its sales.” (New York Times) See? You pay your employees well – and you get to make more money! It’s interesting because this has also been American Apparel’s reasoning for giving their workers paid holiday and sick days: it increases their productivity. I love that companies are recognizing that there is a financial benefit to treating their employees well.

So on that note, I’m not giving up on Gap just yet. I like what they are doing with their salaries, and their collections. I think it is important to support stores who do these kind of initiatives, in hopes that others will follow. I’ll be in Canada in April and I am going to check out some of the pieces from their spring line, and come winter, I will be stocking up on snowsuits for the kids.

  • Jill

    I gave up on Gap for several years after the quality just went downhill. But I will give them another look based on what I’m seeing at Old Navy (whose quality also had gone downhill) and Banana Republic (the L’Wren Scott collection alone impressed me). One retailer I think I have had it with is J. Crew. Their quality is definitely on the decline. Several of the T-shirts I’ve purchased from them are now of thinner material and fall apart at the seams after only a few washes. Meanwhile their prices have gone up! I don’t know what Mickey and Jenna plan to do about this but they better get on it because I think Gap and Banana Republic have their number (among other retailers), so they better up their game.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Agree that J Crew is a bit overpriced… and I would definitely give Gap another chance. I have never really had any disappointments from there (quality -wise!)

  • Lisa Wong

    I love the Gap’s offerings this season. Everything feels fresh, clean, and spring-y.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Totally, and knowing what COS gets up to, Fall with be the same, just not as spring-y.