On a sunny October morning in TriBeCa, synth music pulses through Spring Studios, which is still in the midst of renovations and open now only for a very special presentation. A who’s who of North American fashion editors mill among artfully arranged racks as exceedingly handsome waiters serve seasonal juice and espresso. Suddenly a dozen models emerge onto a rough-hewn plywood runway and stand—backs to St. John’s Park and the glittering Hudson River beyond—as the audience swarms forward, iPhones in hand. This isn’t the work of the latest buzzy downtown designer but that of Gap, under newly installed creative director Rebekka Bay, formerly of the hip Swedish label COS.
Bay’s strategy for bringing cool back to the storied brand? (And it is indeed cool again—the aforementioned editors, this one included, salivated over floral-print jackets and dip-dyed denim.) Following years of scattered direction, she’s refocusing on Gap’s foundation pieces: the jean, the khaki, the crew-neck T-shirt. “Within that,” she explains, “you can start stretching and apply fashion, new techniques, colour and print.” While the spring collection is an instant classic, it also feels very now, largely thanks to the “baby steps” Bay is taking. (See the six-inch cuffs applied to the straight-leg jeans and denim jackets.) It’s also—happily, we’re sure, for the powers that be—very obviously and identifiably Gap.