Secret Shopper: Gap's debut Next concession
As part of our new Secret Shopper series, TheIndustry.fashion visited Gap's newly opened flagship concession at Next's Oxford Street store. The new location marks the brand's return to a physical retail space in the UK.
In September 2021, Gap announced that it had signed a deal with British clothing retailer Next to run its business in the UK and Ireland as a franchise partner. Under the agreement Next will host Gap-branded shop-in-shop concessions - the first of which opened on 14 March at 120 Oxford Street.
The new flagship was designed to "feel lighter, fresher and more modern - while still being recognisably Gap", according to Jon Jeffery, Managing Director at the Joint Venture, who was in-store on the day of the opening.
Street view and location
The Gap concession has taken over the front left corner of the Next retail space, with large glass windows facing out onto the busy Oxford Circus Street. The store is also conveniently connected to Next's larger range of clothing. Although Gap has a distinctly branded space, it is easy to transition from the concession to Next, and the open nature of the store does not make it feel like you pass through two completely different stores. At the back-end of the concession, for example, Gap's children's and babywear ranges are connected to Next's ranges.
Windows and first impressions on entrance
The window displays are bright and colourful, with a digital display in one window by the entrance adding a dynamic visual element. The eye is also encouraged to wander around, as some mannequins are positioned on white steps and platforms to vary their heights, making it again more engaging to look at.
It does not, on first thought, feel like a Gap store, even though the visual identity is clearly the same. The store looks new and fresh. The pleasant music and smiling sales associates convey an air of a calm, away from the rush of people on Oxford Street.
Store fit, displays and merchandising
The stock was organised into neat piles on display tables and along clothing rails around the stores, with a large selection of sizes available for each style. Colour was also clearly a key feature in the store, with a section dedicated solely to beige tones. Throughout the store blues, whites and blacks were dispersed with pops of colour.
The distinction between the womenswear and menswear ranges was quite clearly marked, with both genders receiving ample store space to display products. The product mix included everything from blouses, dresses, tops, pants and skirts for women and pants, shirts, t-shirts and hoodies for men, with a specific section marked out for Denim. A fun feature included display cards arranged in front of every style of jeans, which visualised the product's fit instead of simply labelling it "bootcut" or "low-rise".
Whilst wandering the store multiple staff members looked up from their tasks and asked if I needed any help or if I was looking for something specific. When I hovered by the fitting rooms looking at a wall that displayed rows of people in polaroid pictures, a member of staff came over and explained that the polaroids feature influencers that the brand has worked with.
Overall, the staff were all very attentive and eager to help. If the store hadn't been so well organised, I am certain that if I had asked for another size or colour, I would have been helped very quickly.
The new Gap flagship bears little resemblance to previous versions found on the British high street - it feels reinvigorated and lively. Even though the Gap logo, and general selection of clothing remains the same, the product mix, location and displays make it feel like a new, cooler version of itself.