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The Future of Gap: Athleisure Collabs, Phone Shopping

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

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New Gap CEO Art Peck won't assume his role until February 1st, but the brand's former digital chief is already plotting Gap's transformation into a more online-savvy retailer. In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Peck outlined how the smartphone will help Gap successfully conquer digital retail. In the future, Gap shoppers will be able to access an elevated, "flagship big city store" experience in a suburban mall outpost through their phones. It's unclear how, exactly, that will work—but it is the plan.

Gap is heavily invested in the American mall retail strategy, which Peck knows could become a liability if the company continues to rely on mall traffic to sell clothing. He told Buzzfeed News that traffic is measure by "footsteps across the lease line or unique visitors to our websites." And he knows that one traffic method is quickly outpacing the other: "The numbers are going in a way where, very quickly, the majority of traffic will be digital as opposed to people walking into our stores."

As far as what a digital-first Gap will look like, Peck isn't sure yet, but he's ready to start experimenting. "It's really going to come down to having the capacity as a company to try different things, to throw some stuff at the wall," Peck told Buzzfeed News. "It's really hard to predict how it's all going to shake out when you're giving customers things that they never really had before."

But no matter how Gap approaches the omnichannel game, its clothes are still the key as to whether or not the brand will survive in an internet-dominated retail industry. On that front, Peck thinks that Gap's answer isn't to compete with fast fashion on price point. Instead of relying on heavy discounts to make sales, Gap will compete from an aesthetic perspective. "It's like any other industry, where having products in our stores that are differentiated versus the competition in a meaningful way means that you don't have to just incessantly compete on price," Peck said.

Peck also took shots at Uniqlo (he thinks they won't be able to survive outside of urban areas) and explained how athleisure isn't replacing denim so much as developing a space to live alongside the denim market. And there's a Gap designer collaboration in the works: "I see there being room for all of our brands to have a play," Peck said. "Old Navy has a terrific active business as well that's growing very rapidly. We're going to be doing a collaboration with Intermix and Athleta in one of our designer labels that we're really excited about as well."

· Meet Gap's New CEO: The "Digital Guy" Preparing For More Clicks Than Footsteps [Buzzfeed News]
· How Your Favorite Stores Get Their CEOs [Racked]
· Gap, Banana Republic Sued for Selling Crappy Outlet Merch [Racked]
· Gap's Fall Campaign Is an Ode to Normcore [Racked]