The Gap’s “Basic Instinct”

Max Mara Manuela Wrap Icon Coat $3190 & Gap Recycled Double Faced
Wool Wrap Coat $228

The recent runways perfectly illustrate how out of touch with reality fashion is. I can’t tell you how many times Halloween came to mind. Sure there were inspiring and fantastical flights of fancy and moments of creative brilliance, but anyway you slice it, designer fashion is out of reach for most.

Demna Gvasalia, who routinely hawks $1000 destroyed jeans, $1200 cotton hoodies, and $1850 dirty sneakers, presented his Balenciaga spring 2023 ready-to-wear collection in a mud pit complete with puddles and sludge — a metaphor for “digging for truth, and being down-to-earth,” according to show notes. That’s a laugh. If you really want to get “down-to-earth,” check out what The Gap is up to nowadays.

The Gap’s new fall collection focuses on reinvented classics with responsibly sourced fabrics and fresh proportions. One of their more inspired ideas was casting Selma Blair as one of the faces of Gap’s new ICONS campaign, along with Labrinth, Cameron Russell, Lucky Blue Smith, and Toni Breidinger.

A stalwart in shoppers’ lives, the company has been through ups, including high-profile collaborations with Yeezy, and downs, namely mass store closures, in recent years. Still, it carries the wardrobe staples many have come to rely upon.

Sharon Stone made red carpet history when she showed up at the 1996 Academy Awards wearing a simple black Gap mock turtleneck t-shirt. As it turns out, the look was a last-minute fix for a fashion emergency. The actress, who was nominated for Best Actress that year for her role in “Casino,” said she “started to panic” and called her “Basic Instinct” costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick, for help.

We all need wardrobe basics. They don’t always have to cost an arm and a leg. To illustrate my point, I take 12 items in the market and show their high-priced version alongside The Gap’s facsimiles at a fraction of the price. It’s sometimes hard to tell which is which.

The Jean Jacket

Left, Saint Laurent’s Boyfriend Denim jacket is made of heavily faded light-blue denim, which gives this quintessential jacket a well-loved vibe. Priced at $1650, it is for sale at Nordstrom.com. Right, The Gap’s Icon Denim Jacket is made of light-wash denim with Washwell. Priced at $79.95, it is for sale at gap.com. Pair it with matching jeans, and you’ve got the perfect Canadian Tuxedo.

The Fitted Black One-Shoulder

Left, Victoria Beckham’s fitted one-shoulder top is from her V.B. line and is fashion in its purest form. Made of viscose stretch, it is priced at $490 and is for sale at bergdorfgoodman.com. The Gap’s Modern One Shoulder Top is a bodysuit made of a super soft blend of Supima cotton and modal. Priced at $44.97, it is currently on sale for 50% off at gap.com.

The Teddy Jacket


Left, Max Mara’s Teddy Coats are cozy and iconic. This cropped version of fuzzy camel wool and silk features an oversized collar, two side pockets, and buckled detail. Priced at $1239, it is for sale at cettire.com. Right, The Gap’s Sherpa Moto Jacket has an oversized collar and is made from recycled polyester in a warm shade called “Holiday Brown.” Priced at $128, it is for sale at gap.com.

The Biker Jacket


Left, This Azzedine Alaia jacket is made from vintage leather. It has an oversize fit, peak collar, and zip fastening; stud details; side zip fastening pockets; small snap pocket; stretch belt on the inside; and adjustable belt on the outside. Priced at $6500, it is for sale at Maison-alaia.com. Right, The Gap’s iteration is made from smooth black faux leather. It has a notch collar, zippered front slant pockets, zippered sleeves, and asymmetric zipper-front closure. Priced at $148, it is for sale at gap.com.

The Army-Green Bomber

Left, Rick Owens’ Green Padded Bomber Jacket is artfully draped along one side and at the reverse – a cool contrast to the traditional elements mixed in. Rick knows just how to put his signature spin on classic styles to make them feel completely refreshed. Priced at $1800, this is available at netaporter.com. Right, The Gap’s iteration is made of polyester, priced at $128, and for sale at gap.com. While it is admittedly not as interestingly designed as the Owens, sometimes, the simpler, more straightforward version is just as appealing, and who can argue with the price?

The Relaxed Khaki Trouser

Left, KHAITE’S pleated wide-legged trousers are made from khaki cotton lined with cupro. They sell for $980 and are available at farfetch.com. Right, The Gap’s loose khakis, photographed on Selma Blair, are made with Washwell and will set you back a mere $79.95. They are shown with a 100% organic cotton Big Shirt, priced at $59.95. Both are available at gap.com.

The Cropped Brown Puffer


Left, The Morrison-coated puffer jacket from A.L.C. features a stand collar and a piped zip-front closure. An adjustable drawcord hem finishes this cropped style. It is made from vegan leather in the shade called ‘Caffe.’ Priced at $695, it is for sale at intermixonline.com. Right, The Gap’s Big Puff Crop Jacket in ‘Cozy Brown’ has a quilted water-resistance outer shell and is filled with 100% recycled polyester Primaloft Insulation. It sells for $148 at gap.com. F.Y.I., brown is often touted as “The New Black.” While nothing can replace black, brown gives black a run for its money.

The Puffer Tote

Left, Moncler’s Caradoc Tote Bag is made from down-filled quilted nylon punctuated with gold hardware. It comes with a removable shoulder strap, is priced at $790, and is for sale at fwrd.com. Right, The Gap’s Quilted Puff Tote is made from quilted shiny black nylon and has two shoulder strap handles and two interior pockets. Priced at $69.95, it is for sale at gap.com.

The Deconstructed Jean


Left, Balenciaga’s Ripped Detail Jeans are made from a blend of cotton and polyester. Priced at $950, they are for sale at farfetch.com. Right, The Gap’s High Rise Deconstructed Jeans will only set you back $79.95, and how many holes do you really need? FYI, this pair of denim is part of The Gap’s water-saving Washwell program. Compared to conventional wash methods, Washwell has saved millions of liters of water since 2016.

The Boyfriend Cardigan

Left, Maison Margiela’s rebellious ethos is captured in this camel cardigan, which is accented with distressed-effect tears and pulls. Priced at $905, it is for sale at matchesfashion.com. Right, The Gap’s CashSoft Boyfriend cardigan is made of plush-like cashmere in the shade called camel heather. Priced at $79.95, it is a fraction of the cost of the Margiela, and happily, it has no holes!

The Over-sized Striped Turtleneck Sweater

Left, The Signature Stripe Turtleneck by Toteme is made of a wool and cotton blend. It has an oversized cut, split sides, and an asymmetrical hem. Priced at $570, it is for sale at saksfifthavenue.com. Right, The Gap’s Oversized Turtleneck Sweater is made of soft cotton, has stripes of off-white and navy, and has a banded split hem. Priced at $79.95, it is for sale at gap.com.

Latest Comments:

  1. You could say Rucci is devoted to beauty but really he’s devoted to truth and beauty is how he finds…

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. Ralph will bring back beauty to fashion. Enough with the sideshow attractions.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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