Bottoms Up: After Premium Jeans Success, Gap's Patrick Robinson Smartly Turns to Pants

Last Updated Apr 22, 2010 4:58 PM EDT

After delivering a well-received collection of 1969 Premium Denim (without the premium price) for guys, gals, and babies, Gap's (GPS) Patrick Robinson barely had time to turn the page in his sketch book before beginning the next initiative. But the grand poobah of basics couldn't afford to waste a minute given the company's push to keep building on the 10 percent gain in net sales since the beginning of the year. Lazard Capital Markets analyst Todd Slater said same store sales gains could only be achieved by beefing up the rest of the assortment beyond jeans.

Enter Gap's new pants initiative. Robinson and company have created seven trouser styles for women and three for men featuring sharp tailoring and bespoke details, "that look like they cost four to five times the price." The actual retail prices range from $49.50 to $59.50 â€"- on-trend, yet affordable.

Robinson's assertion that "Giving the customer something to wear seven days a week has been the goal for the Gap brand," comes not a moment too soon. The company spent the better part of the last decade trying to rebuild the brand and win back customers after a series of spectacular missteps by former CEOs Millard "Mickey" Drexler (ousted in 2001 and now at the helm of J. Crew) and Paul Pressler who resigned in 2007.

The new trouser collections hearken back to Gap's golden age when casual Friday became part of the corporate vernacular and it was ready with scores of must-have khakis and wovens that were comfortable, professional and well-priced. Taking this former hit to the next level, Robinson's designed a range of fits from skinny to slouchy which are certain to score with a variety of customers.

Perhaps the most appealing part (for women, anyway) is the merchandising. WWD reported that not only with the pants be paired with filmy white blouses, cashmere sweaters, and leather aviator jackets, but there will also be Pierre Hardy for Gap lace-up, peep-toe wedges. Deliciously covetable and infinitely more chic than those Keds for Gap skips.