Some of Webb’s work for Banana Republic drew praise from within the fashion industry, but sales data made clear that the looks were still not winning over customers. Gap reported Thursday that Banana Republic sales fell 10 percent in September at stores open more than a year. The company’s stock plunged more than 6 percent in afterhours trading, likely a result of investors’ disappointment in both the sales slide at Banana Republic and the merely flat sales at Gap brand. (As usual, the company’s Old Navy chain performed solidly, posting a 4 percent increase in comparable store sales.)
Gap said Webb will continue to be associated with the brand in a “creative advisor role.” A Gap spokeswoman said that this change will allow Webb to devote more time to her eponymous designer label.
The Banana Republic creative director position will not be filled, a choice that mirrors how the company handled the recent departure of Gap brand’s creative director, Rebekka Bay. Like Webb, Bay had been brought in to revitalize a brand where the fashions felt stale and where sales were flagging. Bay came from Cos, a hip brand with a minimalist aesthetic that is owned by H&M. After being unable to energize sales at Gap, Bay left and became head of product design at Everlane.
Webb vacates the Banana Republic creative director position just a week after Stefan Larsson, president of Old Navy, departed the company to become the chief executive of Ralph Lauren.
This series of shake-ups at the highest ranks of Gap comes as the company is doing some soul-searching, trying to find its place in a world when fast-fashion outposts are claiming more and more of young shoppers’ dollars. In order to get back on stronger footing, Gap announced earlier this year that it would shutter about a quarter of its North American stores.
Gap’s chief executive Art Peck has promised shoppers that they will see big improvements at its struggling brands by springtime. Peck has said this is the first time customers will see the full extent of the strategic and fashion makeovers they’ve been working on since he stepped into the CEO’s role earlier this year.