News & Scoops

2011 May 5

Patrick Robinson Out at Gap

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(NEW YORK) Gap's design director, Patrick Robinson, has been dismissed from his position; his successor has not been named. Robinson snagged the star designer gig in 2007, following stints at Paco Rabanne, Giorgio Armani, Perry Ellis, and Anne Klein. The CFDA award nominee is also half of an industry power couple - wife Virginia Smith is fashion market and accessories director at Vogue.

In March 2007, Robinson created an eponymous Target GO Collection; two months later, he nabbed the prominent but renovation-heavy post at Gap. Heralded as a "megabrand messiah" by Elle in September 2008, the designer was brought in to revive the staid retail staple. Other American retailers with muddled identities, such as J. Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch, were a few years into the throes of revamping and becoming increasingly trend-oriented and newly relevant to consumers. 

Although the brand has developed a bolder point of view over the past four years, industry analysts have criticized its poor timing and often premature introductions of trends. Additionally, Robinson has foregone vibrant hues in recent collections, going a more neutral route that perhaps harkens to vividly back to the brand's khaki-saturated period. Prior to Robinson's arrival, Gap endured decreased annual sales since 2005. In the past year, the brand reported a 1 percent decline while its sister companies, Old Navy and Banana Republic, had simultaneously experienced positive same-store sales. 

Gap Inc.'s straightforward farewell to Robinson arrives just months after Gap North America president Marka Hansen departed the company, on February 4. Hansen was replaced by Art Peck, head of Gap Inc.'s outlet stores. Concurrently, Gap Inc. named Seth Farbman as global chief marketing officer, replaced Laird & Partners with Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide - Farbman's prior employer - as its ad agency. Also in February 2010, Gap Inc. unified its global design, PR and marketing divisions for the first time. 

Exactly one year ago, Robinson was likely basking in a post-Met Gala glow: Gap sponsored the 2010 Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute exhibit, "The American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity," and co-chaired the glitzy ball with Anna Wintour and Oprah. The brand collaborated with four illustrious designers – Thakoon, Alexander Wang, Sophie Theallet and Rodarte – to dress eight starlets for the occasion, including Kirsten Dunst, M.I.A., Jessica Alba and Kerry Washington.  


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