Last week, Gap and Pantone opened up a pop-up shop on 5th Ave in the company’s ‘concept store’ space. The concept? Selling t-shirts in a range of Pantone hues, naturally.
The idea of offering a limited number of classic designs in a plethora of colors is certainly not a new one. Uniqlo, and to some extent Lacoste, have both successfully implemented it over the years. Despite not being a revolutionary innovation, It has always been a concept I’ve liked- There is something curious about the juxtaposition of wearing something as ubiquitous as a gap t-shirt or a Lacoste polo, whilst retaining enough control and choice to achieve a level of individuality and differentiation.
The shop, which is open until February 8th, will feature a full palette of Gap tees in true Pantone Colors, including a solitary limited-edition tee in Mimosa (#14-0848), Pantone’s color of the year for 2009, which is available only at the Gap & Pantone T-Shop.
Pantone describe the color as having seven characteristics: Optimism, hope, reassurance, warmth, cheerfulness, radiance, and versatility. Whilst these are undoubtedly behavioral traits that it will be useful to manifest over what is likely to be a tricky twelve months, I can’t help but laugh at such pretentious myopia.
The meaning, or characteristics of a color, are surely nothing more than those bestowed upon it. Colors mean different things in different cultures. I’m sure ‘The World’s Local Bank’ pointed this out a while back. I also remain unconvinced that merely slipping a Mimosa colored t-shirt on is enough to imbue you with optimism and cheerfulness. Last time I checked, putting Spiderman’s suit on didn’t give me the ability to climb walls (I bare the bruises as evidence) and I would imagine that Alex Ferguson would still be a grumpy old man even if he wore a Mimosa colored raincoat. Sigh. If only the ‘characteristics’ of a color could pass via osmosis to the wearer. Think of the possibilities. The Second World War could have been avoided if only Hitler’s Aunt had sent him a Mimosa Wooly hat for Christmas to keep him warm in Bavaria.
…Just for the record, Mimosa reminds me of Mimosas, which remind me of getting drunk at wedding receptions, so I associate the color with drunk and disorderly debauchery. I’m positive Gap would sell more Tees if they advocated this interpretation.
Back to the concept itself, I can’t help but feel that it would have that bit more cache if it had stronger connotations of exclusivity. Why not introduce one item that is available in a dozen colors. Then, each month these colors could be retired, with a different item, available in a new set of a dozen colors, introduced in its place. Something tells me that this wouldn’t have the economies of scale to satisfy the insatiable financial appetite of a company like Gap. However, the potential buzz that the exclusivity would bring, could be useful in helping Gap reconnect with a generation of shoppers who no longer associate with the brand. A loss-leader of sorts, if you will.
Right, I’m off to find a color that has the characteristics of cynicism, bitterness, sacrcasm, pessimism and disappointment. That would suit me down to the ground…