The Gap's 'Dress Normal' Ads Are Bullshit Dressed In Black And White

 Gap model checks herself out in the mirror while making out. Because she dresses "like no one is watching," you guys. (Credit: YouTube)

Gap model checks herself out in the mirror while making out. Because she dresses "like no one is watching," you guys. (Credit: YouTube)

If The Gap had their way, we’d all be pod people by now.

In case you haven't spotted it yet, their latest marketing campaign for fall boldly tells us to “dress normal.”

But what the hell does that mean exactly? As defined by the Merrium Webster dictionary, the archetypally preppy-chic brand is asking us to look: "usual or ordinary; not strange; and mentally and physically healthy." To which we say, screw you and the boat you came in on.

Alas they've gotten some heavyweights in on the seemingly normcore mindgames. With the help of Academy Award-nominated director David Fincher (who helmed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, etc. etc. etc.) The Gap has rolled out a series of black and white scenes that look like film noir instead of your typical, buy this! commercials. They also mark the first work of new global agency Wieden & Kennedy.

Ad Age says that Fincher has "elevated" The Gap with his vision, proffering "lush black and white films that capture models in the midst of cryptic scenes, making viewers feel as if they're caught in the middle of a story."

Interestingly enough, despite the fact that we're all supposed to "dress normal," the scenes Fincher depicts are far from it, wrought with isolation, simmering sex, introspection and anxiety.

In print and on billboards, you’ll find glossy images of Anjelica Huston staring out across a dark, abandoned restaurant or Elisabeth Moss tossing bread to seagulls, smiling to no one in particular. With other beautiful and celebrated creatures in the mix like Zosia Mamet and Michael K. Williams, I’d say the models stray far from “normal” people you’d find at the mall. In the same vein, the ads themselves deeply conform to the norm by asking consumers to measure up to celebrities. Which they never will.

This is getting confusing. 

In an attempt to achieve an edgier vibe that is a decided departure from Gap's usually grinning and cheerful models clad in bright colors and perky breasts, they’ve gone in for muted gray tones, even including the tagline “black is a color.”

“Being your most authentic self is a style that will always endure,” states one ad. “Nothing beats dressing like no one is watching,” presumes another. But isn’t the very point of wearing clothes to consider other people? (If no one were watching, I’d gladly sport my birthday suit through this goddamn heat wave in L.A.)

My favorite tagline however has to be “Simple clothes for you to complicate.” (Accompanied by a man running up four flights of stairs into the arms of his lover.) More like, simple jeans so we can better zoom in on this girl’s ass.

While it may seem counterintuitive at worst and clever at best that The Gap is insisting on "conformity" when most clothing companies sell the illusion of individuality . . . really, they’re just doing the same thing in a roundabout way. "Dress like everyone else so you can be your authentic self."

So let’s just call a spade a spade shall we? These are short films proffering an inverted, age-old tagline dressed up in grittier but the same old same old heteronormative packaging. These ads are undeniably confusing, very pretty, and really annoying.

I’m all for sticking to basics and keeping it simple when it comes to fashion, but when a commercial tells me to do it—especially under the auspices of a "call to non-action" and when urging to drop $80 a lame white button-down—my hackles rise.

Forgive me if I don't want to march around in nerd-chic, kind of dowdy duds while I hope my life gets more interesting than my outfit. 

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