Gap Inc. recently started it’s forth chain store – “Forth & Towne”. It’s been open for about a year in San Francisco, Santa Barbara, New York and Chicago, and has recently opened its doors in Atlanta and Seattle. I went to have a look.
Forth & Towne was created to capture a slice of the market that Gap Inc wasn’t reaching – women over the age of 35. Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic (Gap Inc.’s first 3 chain stores) capture a substantial amount of the younger market, while the so called “older women” (who generally have more disposable income) were left untapped. And so, Forth & Towne was created with the intent of luring this demographic.
Staff were friendly and informative. They explained to me that the name of the new chain store has a story: “Forth” to denote that it’s Gap’s fourth chain store (with an intentional play on the spelling of the word); and “Towne” to denote the notion that shopping is a social and urban phenomenon. The name actually sounds like a meeting destination – “I’ll meet you at “Forth & Towne”, rather like saying “I’ll meet you at 6th and Pine”.
The store offers chic apparel collections for 4 lifestyles: casual, smart casual, business casual and formal. Sizes are based on the curvier women and run from 2-20 (with shorter lengths available in pants). Prices are set between Gap and Banana Republic, and the quality is lovely. The store was designed with the notion that shopping can be transformed into a pleasurable communal experience. Comfy chairs and a style table laid out with fashion magazines, flowers and bottled water occupy the heart of the dressing room area. Forth & Towne will give chain stores like Coldwater Creek, J Jill, Eileen Fisher and Chico’s a run for their money. The clothing is generally more sophisticated, tailored, flattering and less expensive.
The concept of the new store is interesting. The over 35 year age group is diverse – from people like Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman, to Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey. And whether this target market actually chooses to linger on in the store remains to be seen. However, it’s always worth taking a look at something new – if you feel that you fit the demographic, have a peek.
The first Forth & Towne store in New York state.