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The Retail Apocalypse Is Coming for Gap

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A Swing and a Miss for Fashion's Body-Image Problem, and More Shopping News
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The fashion world has, and always has had, a body-image problem. Unrealistic beauty and body expectations are peddled in ads, in stores, and, of course, on the runway. While this has been a subject of discussion in the United States, other countries have actually taken decisive action: In 2012, Israel passed a law that regulates the body mass indexes of models and forces brands to disclose whether ad images have been retouched. In 2015, France adopted a similar law.

Today, France’s two leading luxury conglomerates, Kering and LVMH, announced they are taking things one step further by setting up a charter that bans size 0 models from being cast in shows and campaigns. The charter also stands to protect models against mistreatment and abuse by prohibiting the hiring of models under the age of 16 and not allowing those between the ages of 16 to 18 to work overnight jobs. In a statement announcing the new measure, Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault said he hopes “to inspire the entire industry to follow suit, thus making a real difference in the working conditions of fashion models industry-wide.”

While these two giant companies (which include Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Céline, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga in their combined portfolios) have the ability to make a serious impact on the fashion world, discriminating against women who wear a size 0 is decidedly not the answer.

“While I dont think that thin-shaming is as serious an issue as fat-shaming by any stretch, I find it disturbing that a shape/size would be banned,’” Kelsey Osgood, author of How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia, tells Racked. “Much as it galls some people, there are actually people out there who are size 0s. The question that arises is, where do the lines get drawn, and who draws them? What if someone is naturally a size 10, let’s say, and starves herself to maintain a size 6. Do we ban her? It seems a pretty simplistic and yet draconian way to deal with the issue. I suspect there are better ways agencies and designers could ensure the models they hire are healthy.”

The industry’s beauty standards reward women who are thin (and also young and white). This is something those in power — designers, editors, casting directors, marketing executives — need to reckon with, without placing the blame on women who wear a particular size. Brands should be encouraged to hire models of all sizes (and ages and colors), not told to exclude those who were born a certain way.

And of Course...

No day of retail news would be complete without mention of Amazon. Today, Kohls announced it was planning to roll out 10 Amazon boutiques in its own stores in Los Angeles and Chicago. Amazon employees will staff these shops-in-shop to sell the company’s gadgets, including its voice-activated Echos, Fire TV streamer, and Fire tablets. This comes the same day that Home Depot has announced a similar partnership with Google, and last month Walmart also struck a Google deal: Walmart products are now available on Google Express, and customers can access them via its voice-enabled assistant, Google Home.

On the surface these seem like smart moves, partnering with a huge digital players in a grim retail environment (keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right?). But problems very well may arise, especially since Amazon is hardly considered a friendly retail partner. With Amazon (and Amazon staff!) physically inside Kohl’s stores selling Amazon products, boundaries are sure to get blurry.

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And finally...

The retail apocalypse is coming for Gap Inc. Later today, Gap CEO Art Peck is expected to present a plan for the company that involves closing 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores and focusing more of the company’s efforts on Old Navy and Athleta. The plan will reportedly help cut $500 million in expenses over the next three years.

This makes sense: Old Navy has been able to woo customers with approachable price points and a strong brand identity — something its higher-end sister companies are still struggling with. Athleta, too, has remained a customer favorite, thanks to the consistent strength of the fitness and athleisure markets. Well have updates on this story as we hear more, and if you’re a Gap or Banana employee with more information, email me at chavie@racked.com. —Chavie Lieber, senior reporter

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Deal of the Day

In the spirit of Racked’s Get Your Shit Together week, we’re giving away three different prizes that will help you get started on your organizational journey.

Today we’re offering a $100 gift card to Muji, purveyor of basically everything you could ever need to get a fresh start, from storage items and hangers to essentials like undearwear and socks.

To enter, sign up for our brand new newsletter challenge by Friday! Each week for one month, we’ll send you an email containing five easy steps for you to tackle before the following week’s email. More details here

Check back here tomorrow for the reveal of the last prize! 

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