If you’ve been to a Gap recently, you may have noticed the men’s section is a bit gussied up with fancy items from collaborators who are very not Gap. This is the product of GQ teaming up with the brand, introducing their picks for the best new menswear designers to a broader audience. That means you are getting quality goods at a higher quantity. But are they any good? Let’s investigate.
The are four designers involved: there’s New York’s David Hart and Hill-Side along with LA’s NSF and STAMPD. While one of the four designers are new—STAMPD, who even then aren’t that “new”—the collections seem to be something that is more about getting your friends from high school who live back home acquainted with designers they wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. The collections are mostly well done despite some falling into the Gap gutter.
The David Hart collection is the biggest victim of this. While it is intentionally supposed to feel 1950s real, the effect of the wool zip and tweed suiting is sweaty and dated. I’ve purchased tweed pants from Gap before and they are itchy and scratchy and will make your balls stink. This is a fact. When I saw the collection in person, I thought this as I massaged a pant leg. One very bright spot is the reversible balmacaan coat. Yes, it’s a gross “twofer” clothing item but the fit and beautiful teal are worth your time and money.
The NSF collection feels unfortunately LA stereotypical. Palm tree shirts with faded, torn denim and a leather jackets reek of Sunset Strip runoff in the worst way possible. A lot of pieces are wearable, though: the green dyed paint splattered “khaki” is utilitarian fun (that, yes, you could splatter yourself—but they did a good job doing it for you); the “reversible” (Ugh.) sweater is lovingly distressed; and the washed chambray is a lovely memory of a pocket. Nothing new here, sure, but those are fun and affordable with mainstream, very Gap appeal.
The Hill-Side’s collection is the most obviously, straightforwardly “fancy” and would make for great gifting. There are uncomfortable things (Like herringbone pants, bleh.) but some sweet wallets and a nice beanie will draw you into them. You can get more affordable versions of their artisanal iconic ties, too. The best? A beautiful patterned reversible (UGH.) bomber in a dainty camo. There’s even an accompanying pouch, too.
Lastly, the STAMPD collection. It’s clearly the best. Minimalist and athletic, the clothing feels so out-there and in-there for Gap. It’s contemporary and cool and everything but the tech pants and leather backpack will be hot sellers—and even those two items will get swallowed by STAMPD fan boys. This stuff is legitimately really cool. I don’t think I would buy any of it, no, but I have a lot of respect for them making clothing that are so “them”—and with nothing over $200. That’s very respectable.
Should you check out the GQ Gap collection? Sure. It’s good! Your face won’t melt off in ecstasy but you will not walk away empty handed. A lot of the stuff in the collection inspired a “Huh. Well. Huh.” as I looked at them, wondering if I actually needed the clothing. I want to feel that all the time at the Gap but, unfortunately, they offer very infrequent moments of retail want. Here’s to hoping they can keep this up.