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Gap Launches Expensive Designer White Shirts

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For the past several seasons The Gap has been in a serious creative rut with completely lackluster clothes and equally dull ad campaigns, but the company aims to change all that with today's introduction of a limited edition collection for women designed by three hot, up-and-coming fashion designers.

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Following in the footsteps of mass-market clothing retailers H&M, Topshop and Target, all of whom have commissioned high-end designers to create limited edition clothing lines, The Gap selected designers Doo.Ri, Rodarte and Thakoon to each create three interpretations of the classic white shirt. The collections, known as Gap Design Editions, will be available only in flagship and top Gap adult stores in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Japan as well as online in the U.S.

So what's the result of The Gap's attempt to meld each designer's unique vision with Gap's classic aesthetic? So far, my overall thought is… blah. I haven't seen every item in the debut Gap Design Edition, and I haven't had a chance to feel the fabrics or try on the clothes, so I'm judging solely on the photos I've seen.

Unfortunately, I don't think the pictures I've seen are a harbinger of success. Of the three tops, the only one I truly like is the Rodarte sleeveless drape that Liya Kebede wears. It looks fresh and appealing. Perfect for summer. The Doo.Ri tailored camp shirt is just... ugh. I don't like the T-shirt sleeves, the panels on the chest and the boxy-looking cut. Besides, American Apparel already makes a great a 4-button fine jersey polo shirt that costs $32, less than half of what this shirt will cost. The Thakoon shirt is fussy and ridiculous. I think it's supposed to be romantic and Victorian, but it just looks pirate-y. All of the items cost between $68 and $88, and at those prices I'm curious to see if consumers will bite.

It's a very smart move for The Gap to partner with innovative, young designers. And Doo.Ri, Thakoon and Rodarte (especially Rodarte) are all great designers. But why stifle them? Why not let them do something a little more interesting than a white shirt? I'm also skeptical of the retailer's ability to execute quality clothing. So often The Gap gets it wrong. Really, really wrong. Even when they collaborate with talented designers. It's like there's some executive who insists that no matter how good a design looks, every item of clothing must be cut to appease the figures and sensibilities of middle-American housewives.