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How clothing giants Gap and Benetton once ruled the fashion high street

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In 1969, Don Fisher was having difficulty finding the right size of Levi’s jeans in traditional clothing stores. His solution was quite radical. Together with his wife Doris, he opened his own store, The Gap, selling a large selection of the product Fisher had found so hard to buy.

A year earlier, across the Atlantic, an Italian family business called Benetton, had opened its first store, entering the mass fashion market with a slightly different approach. Rather than branded clothes, Benetton began by selling knitwear they made themselves.

From these humble beginnings, both The Gap and Benetton went on to become hugely successful fashion retailers. At one time, their superiority within the sector was such that they assumed the status of “category killers” – chains so big that they threaten the survival of smaller competitors.

A key feature of category killers – other famous examples include Toys “R” Us, Home Depot and Staples – is the convenient availability of specific, affordable products. It is a retail format based on a clear understanding of what it is the customer wants and satisfying that demand at low cost.

With the announcement this summer that Gap would close all its stores in UK and........

© The Conversation

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