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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.
Dear Young Moms and Backstreet Fans,
What do boy bands, 90210 and Blossom all have in common?
Well, first: They were the cultural cornerstones of female tween-to-teen life throughout the '90s—a decade that opened with New Kids on the Block and signed off with the Backstreet Boys.
And second, those slick young singers and precocious young actors—now not so young—are all over your radar again. Starring in a series of Old Navy commercials for skinny denim and colorful, promotionally-priced basics.
It's no huge surprise, really. Old Navy has a long history of resurrecting has-beens in their high camp commercials. Think the Jeffersons and Morgan Fairchild shilling Performance Fleece with Magic the mutt and that woman with the giant glasses (who was that? I liked her).
That was in 1998. That was when every member of your family had an Old Navy Performance Fleece in some crazy candy color. It was kind of a dark period.
Since then, Old Navy has provided well-needed paychecks to Mr. T, Lil' Kim, Fran Drescher and Robin Leach—amongst many others. But only in the last year or so has the brand been so obsessed with us: The children of the '90s.
And it makes sense, doesn't it? Old Navy sells sorta trend-aware, easy fit, fun and extremely affordable attire for the whole entire family: Old, young, large, small, the pregnant and their tiniest babies, even the dog. Thus, the target customer is, oh, 30. She lives somewhere suburban. She's in the thick of having kids. She shops for the whole clan. And she's nothing like us swinging single city folk who talk about how we can't believe all our high school friends are posting pictures of toddlers (their toddlers!) on Facebook while we drink too much wine somewhere we convince ourselves is glamorous.
She—Ashley or Jennifer or Lauren or Brittany—she's the one who wants to know whether Jennie Garth will choose Luke Perry or Jason Priestly.
(She ends up with the jeans.)
And she's the one who squealed when the Backstreet Boys showed up in that latest commercial.
Old Navy's ad people are killing it. They know exactly who they're speaking to and how. Want proof? Google "Old Navy commercial." These young moms talk more about Joey Lawrence selling sweats than about, I don't know, Tuesday's presidential debate.
Now, the question is, will Old Navy keep up the kitsch in lieu of Gap, Inc.'s litany of fast fashion poaching? The parent brand is after speed to market, trend, and certainly quality—as evidenced by high profile hires from Zara, H&M, and similar. Does that implicit edginess mean Old Navy's good clean fun is pretty much done?
I think no. Old Navy has its own set of values; its own customer base. They care less about runway knock-offs and more about affordable jeans and brightly colored knits and cheap, durable whosits for the gym or the little one.
Which brings me to the really important question at hand: Who will be Old Navy's newest spokesperson? I think it's about time creative started mining the cast of Melrose Place and/or Lilith Fair participants.
But that might just be me.
· Love, Frank [Racked]