Gap Releases New "Miami" Collection, And Now I'm Just Super Confused

When I think of Gap, I think of basics and comfy, well-fitting denim. What I definitely don't think of? Miami. So when the first images of Gap's new "Miami" collection were released recently, it only seemed natural to tilt my head to the side with a sighed, "huh?"

I mean, this is Gap I'm talking about. Wholesome, rows of cotton T-shirts, "I'm trying to find something to wear for a casual summer barbecue" Gap. So when the "Miami" collection was released, it only made sense that everyone was all mildly confused. And the collection images did nothing to help me understand: The art deco-inspired button downs and pastel basics certainly did not scream Miami.

So what exactly is Gap trying to do here? Appeal to a wider audience? Fool their shoppers into thinking a cotton T-shirt in a pale salmon color says South Beach? Interpret big city fashion in a more accessible type of way? I honestly have no clue.

It's no secret that Gap hasn't been doing so well for the past few years, but with creative collaborations and ad campaigns, the effort to restore the brand to it's former '90s glory has been pretty apparent. The appeal of Gap is there, the power of the brand name is certainly present, and the quality of the pieces themselves has been a cornerstone of the company for years. So what's missing?

It seems like Gap doesn't have a clear direction at this point. Releasing creative, young collections — such as the recent Gap x Visionaire collaboration, which debuted intense, graphic T-shirts that featured unique, relevant artwork — is something that I think we can all view as a positive step forward. It's a nod toward newer trends, a younger shopper and a high fashion aesthetic. But when Gap is simultaneously releasing collections like it's most recent Miami endeavor, mixed messages are being sent.

While the more modern, trendy collaborations seem like what Gap needs to relate to a younger, more stylish shopper (because, lets be honest, the casual summer BBQ look isn't exactly "on trend"), the brand is clearly still trying to hang on to the things that have made it successful in the past — well-made, comfortable, and casual basics.

Of course, there's certainly something to be said for a balance between trendiness and well-constructed basics (think J.Crew), but Gap doesn't seem to be finding that balance. At least not at the moment.

Having said that, there's certainly hope for the brand. In fact, Gap's profits for April 2014 actually exceeded expectations. So even with the confusing mix of mismatched campaigns and collaborations, I don't think Gap's going anywhere anytime soon. It's just a matter of channeling the qualities that make the company great into a modern aesthetic that seems natural for the company, as well as appealing to shoppers. Easier said than done, but I have faith in you, Gap.