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Low-Cost Clothes Wage High-Stakes Battle47:42
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The battle to sell you clothes. J. Crew, Abercrombie, GAP are in trouble. New ways, new retailers, piling in.

In this May 14, 2012 file photo, shoppers walk by the GAP store at a shopping mall in Peabody, Mass. On June 16, 2015, the company announced it would be closing up to a quarter of its North American stores. (AP)
In this May 14, 2012 file photo, shoppers walk by the GAP store at a shopping mall in Peabody, Mass. On June 16, 2015, the company announced it would be closing up to a quarter of its North American stores. (AP)

One distinct thing about humans as a species is this:  almost all of us cover our bodies, in cloth, every day.  You don’t see rabbits doing that.  Or gekos.  Or chimps.  But we do. We call it clothes and in all their variety we call it fashion.  Right now, some of the biggest names in mid-market American fashion retailing are in trouble.  Gap is shuttering stores all over.  J. Crew is sputtering.  New “fast fashion” challengers from abroad are booming up.  Americans’ buying habits and tastes are changing.  Up next On Point:  the clothes we buy, the world of retail that brings them, and upheaval in the land of Gap.
– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Suzanne Kapner, retail industry repoter for The Wall Street Journal. (@suzannekapner)

Liz Dunn, retail and brand analyst. Founder and CEO of Talmage Advisors, a brand consultancy firm. (@lizabeth_dunn)

Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic for the New York Times and the International New York Times. (@vvfriedman)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Gap to Slash More Stores, Cut Jobs -- "Gap Inc. plans to close about a quarter of its namesake stores in North America, the second major round of cuts in just four years as the company struggles to rehabilitate the brand. The retailer once claimed the title of the world’s largest specialty-apparel chain by expanding to virtually every mall and city center in the U.S. But with the chain’s sales slumping and consumers doing more of their shopping online, Gap is left saddled with too much real estate in undesirable locations."

The Atlantic: Closing the Gap — "The heyday of the American mall is over, and retail is increasingly moving online. Perhaps nothing is more emblematic of the closing of the American mall thanGap’s announcement Tuesday that it will be closing a quarter—175—of its brick-and-mortar stores in North America. Gone are the days when working at the Gap meant selling out to stability a la Reality Bites. Most of the closings are planned to happen before the end of January, and layoffs—at both stores and 250 positions at the corporate level—are expected."

New York Times: Can a New Designer (Not Jenna Lyons) Fix J. Crew? — "Indeed, in all the gleeful picking over of J. Crew’s problems — and fashion loves nothing more than seeing a runaway success, which J. Crew was, fall on its face — Ms. Lyons, who has been promoted as the face of the brand and who has become a quasi design celebrity in her own right, has been notably absent."

This program aired on June 22, 2015.

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