Normcore Lives On: Gap CEO Stands By "Dress Normal" Campaign

Gap's soon-to-be CEO acknowledged the campaign is a "work in process," but the company is "really excited about elements of it."

Gap's "Dress Normal" campaign, a play on the normcore trend, has been criticized by fashionistas and analysts for missing the mark with its core customers this fall — but the company is standing by it.

Dress Normal is "a work in process," digital chief and soon-to-be CEO Art Peck said in an interview with BuzzFeed News this week. "It's working on some dimensions, and then we have work to do on others, which is very typical for the first time out on an advertising campaign. It's got a lot of conversation and a lot of dialogue about it...I've been with the agency and our marketing team, and we're really excited about elements of it, and there are other places where we still need to get it dialed in."

Gap unveiled Dress Normal in August. It's been viewed as a nod to normcore, which is the ironic embrace of nondescript, "ardently ordinary clothes," as New York magazine put it. However, critics say the irony may be lost on Gap's core customer, who doesn't want to be told that what she's getting is average or basic — rather, she'd like to be on-trend. The company has been discounting its fall collection heavily and same-store sales, a measure that excludes the effect of new stores, slid in August, September and October. (Gap reports earnings later today.) Wall Street analysts complained the clothes in stores this fall were "too 'normal,'" and that the apparel and ad campaign failed to entice shoppers.

But Peck said the call to Dress Normal still has time to prove itself.

"You never know, I think, until you have a couple seasons into a marketing platform whether it's going to be something customers respond to and relate to and want to engage with on an ongoing basis," he said. "When we came out with the Be Bright campaign back in 2012, it took a few seasons for us to figure out whether we were really getting traction there and whether customers saw beyond the bright of color to the broader meaning of bright. So stay tuned."