I wasn’t the only one who was surprised that GAP wasn’t in India already! PR Pundit invited me to the GAP India Press Preview and that is when I found out that the first independent GAP store will be opening in India on the 30th of May at the Select City Walk Mall in New Delhi. The other thing that was at the top of my mind was the Fast-Fashion episode of Last Week Tonight that John Oliver had aired the previous Sunday where among other brands, he also points at GAP and the issues that similar brands have faced with manufacturing, contractors and sub-contractors. I have been looking for clothing brands that use organic textile, have single tailor sewn items and practice ethical production. I love finding out who made my clothes. Because of this “fashion revolution”, I have completely stopped shopping with brands like Forever21, Zara and Mango. I would call products from these brands “throwaway fashion”. Items fall apart, are not stitched well, the materials used are sub-standard at best and there have been various stories in the press about how some of the products of these brands are manufactured at units that employ either child labour or the working conditions and wages are so low that if one of the employees at the factory had to purchase the very item they were constructing, it would mean spending at least half a year’s salary!
It is a difficult situation for a brand as well as for a customer like myself. Controlling how products are manufactured and making sure that a quality approved contractor does not sub-contract the garment order onto an unethical production unit, when working at a humongous global scale, can be hard. For a customer like me, I do not want to open my wallet to further promote manufacturing where other humans are forced to work in less-than-human conditions. At the same time, I want good quality products that LAST and do not fall apart the second time I put them in the laundry. Especially in a country like India, there aren’t many good quality, non-fast-fashion options. I have purchased from enough local brands and realized that the production quality is just not working for me.
As a blogger, I dread receiving collaboration requests and invitations to events when they are from fast-fashion brands. From a commercial point of view, I want my blog to make money and stay afloat but I also want to be in a position to make the correct choice. My blog reflects my life and how I live. I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that I have misrepresented my life in my documentation of it.
Curiosity is my curse however, and I’d rather show up and ask the difficult questions instead of turning down collaboration opportunities. So there I was at Fio Cookhouse at Nehru Place, full of trepidation, yet excited to find out more at the GAP Press Preview. GAP India’s CEO Oliver Kaye and GAP India’s Marketing Lead Melanie were present and I asked both of them about their take on GAP’s manufacturing and how the company had been managing the bad press. Apart from the fact that both of them are lovely people, they were also professional and straightforward about what they had to say in response. I’m not completely satisfied but HOT DAMN the quality of the GAP products on display was breathtakingly good. The textiles used, the cuts, the stitching and the simplicity. I was suitably impressed and wanted to buy the six dresses they had hanging on the first rail of sample clothes right off the bat. Now I cannot wait for the store to open and to empty my wallet there.
Undoubtedly, the Indian customer is going to lap up the products that GAP has to offer. Not only are the price points more than reasonable, the clothes will last.
How wonderful would it be for someone like me to spend time doing a visual storytelling project at GAP’s manufacturing units across the world! It would allow the brand to show-off their stringent checks and control points while winning over some of the world’s most discerning customers : Indians. What do you think Oliver? 😀
Onto some fun now. After the super awesome Outhouse party last week, I couldn’t believe my luck at how fun the GAP India press preview was as well! Yes there is a serious aspect, which I’ve touched on above, but GAP does know how to throw a party as well! There was food, music and even an artist spray painting custom designs on GAP t-shirts and all present got to direct him to the exact design they wanted – it was fun to watch and I LOVE the t-shirt that Rohan Joglekar made for me! There’s a video of the process at the end of this blog post. Some photos from the event below.
Look who I met when I walked in! None other than Marryam Reshii! She was at Fio for food and I was there for fashion! How cool! Finally we got a selfie together and she took such a lovely photo of me!
The GAP India team suggested trying out garments I liked and I had been eyeing the first dress I had seen when I’d walked in. There was a trial room space and I promptly headed there. I got stuck in the dress because some of the inside-zipper lining got caught in the zipper. After an army of people tried to get me out of it, I was amazed that the bit of cloth that had gotten stuck had not a single thread out of place. People tugged and pulled and there was talk of getting a pair of pliers – there was also the offer of me staying stuck in the dress and taking it home 😀 Unfortunately, a deft pair of hands finally untugged the zipper and I pranced around for a bit. Good material.
Impossible not to shove a cupcake in my face when I see one. These were blue!
Above, with Melanie of GAP India.
Above with Karishma Gupte of PR Pundit and below with Oliver Kaye of GAP India.
As you can tell, Rohan was being MOBBED! Fantastic idea to get all the ladies excited about a brand.
I wore the t-shirt the very next day! At first I was thinking I should preserve it because it is a work of art. But then I thought to myself that life is short and I’d be doing the art a favour by wearing it. So there.
I picked out a lovely grey linen t-shirt that Rohan then spray painted for me. Video shorts below.
Can’t wait for the store to open now!