Gap rolls out new women's brand with 'intimate' effort

NEW YORK and CHICAGO: Clothing retailer Gap Inc. is debuting its highly anticipated fourth brand - Forth & Towne - with a strong marketing and PR push.

NEW YORK and CHICAGO: Clothing retailer Gap Inc. is debuting its highly anticipated fourth brand - Forth & Towne - with a strong marketing and PR push.

Forth & Towne, which joins other company brands The Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy, opened its first stores in suburban New York and Chicago last month. The new brand is aimed at "mature, confident women," said Kris Marubio, senior corporate communications manager.

Among Gap's various brands, the company has about 8% market share of women under 35. But it only has 3% of the market for women over 35. The company hopes the new brand will change that.

Forth & Towne has reached out to industry publications like Women's Wear Daily, as well as to local media in New York and Chicago, and a few select national media. The company is handling all communications for the rollout in-house.

"We're focusing on those customers who grew up with The Gap, but have outgrown The Gap," Marubio added.

Forth & Towne is also taking a more "intimate" approach to appealing to these women, explained Rinat Aruh, VP of marketing for the new brand.

The company reached out to 40 influential women in Chicago, where four of the five new stores are located. The women were given cameras and asked to take pictures of what style meant to them.

The resulting photos were reproduced as cards, with the slogan "Meet Me at Forth & Towne" printed on the back. They were then scattered in strategically chosen locations around the city, from gyms to cafes. The store will donate $10 to the Children's Memorial Hospital for every card that a customer picks up and brings to the store.

"We wanted to come into Chicago as a neighbor and a friend," said Aruh. "We want people to see Forth & Towne as a place where we engage with you."

Part of that engagement includes providing customers with style and wardrobe makeovers and consultations.

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