Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
A California woman is suing Gap and Banana Republic for consumer fraud, after discovering that their outlet stores don't carry the same merchandise as their regular brand stores—and are allegedly trying to hide that fact. In her suit, Linda Rubinstein claims that Gap and Banana Republic are both engaging in false advertising, unfair competition and violation of state consumer laws by not clearly stating the difference in product between their outlet and regular retail locations.
Instead of consistently spelling the discrepancy out on the tags, Rubinstein claims that occasionally, the only way to tell that the products are not the same is a marking of three squares on outlet merchandise, but shoppers would only be able to tell the difference if a.) they knew what the markings meant and b.) they knew to look for them.
"There is no other indication, in the store or on the garment, that suggests the factory store clothing was never actually sold at the traditional Banana Republic or Gap stores and/or made of lesser quality," she says. "Unless the ordinary shopper is diligent in their retail store research what the three squares mean, defendant's deceptive practices will not be discovered."
It should be noted that this isn't Rubinstein's first time at the rodeo: she also sued Neiman Marcus' Last Call locations for selling merchandise specifically made for Last Call (not discounted merchandise from the regular locations) and not immediately specifying that to unaware shoppers. Both cases are still awaiting court decisions.
· Gap and Banana Republic sued over outlet-store offerings [Consumer Affairs]
· Gap's Fall Campaign Is an Ode to Normcore [Racked]
· Banana Republic Gave Its Workwear a Makeover [Racked]