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Gap and Avetts come together

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The Avett Brothers are in a Gap ad.

[Curse], The Avett Brothers are in a [cursing] Gap ad.

In my last blog about 90210, I said I don’t believe in Gap. I believe in The Avett Brothers, though. I believe in their music, their live shows, their songwriting and whatever else a fan can believe in. Seeing them in a Gap ad was, for a moment, crushing.

Here’s the story of Gap as I see it:

In sixth grade, you didn’t take a gym bag to middle school, you took a Gap bag with your stuff in it — a drawstring Gap bag. The kids who didn’t follow this protocol teetered on the edge of social survival. Transitioning to a Gap bag for your things was like switching to a brown paper lunch sack and retiring the Power Rangers lunch cube. That was my first experience with the Gap. It was a place you went for a shirt or two (with your mom) after you spent the majority of what allowance you had at Abercrombie. (Woods cologne, anyone? Or, “The Ivy League of Cologne,” the website boasts. All of my middle school smelled like that oaky slime. You could see the Woods vapor wafting about the reflective hallways.)

Then Gap evolved. At some point it switched to the “Let’s wrinkle the hell out of everything we sell and hang stuff on hooks like we don’t care” retail philosophy, which mirrored Abercrombie’s (and Abercrombie’s poorer cousin American Eagle’s) direction. For a while Gap went preppy, like it saw a girl it liked in a tennis skirt and decided to dress up (insert Gatsby-faking-it reference here). Then Gap settled in. Gap went to basics like khakis, t-shirts, polos and jeans. (Gap’s men’s jeans are okay, but women’s are, eh, not sure how to put it… they tend to square what should be round.) Recently, someone has taken the helm at Gap and kept them in tune with the shifting winds of casual fashion — plaids, chambray, gingham, denim fits, etc. Gap is better now than it was, yet still lacks a definitive identity. It’s just Gap. It’s… I don’t know… individually wrapped cheese slices.

The Avett Brothers on the other hand are not sliced cheese. They’re the cheese that has a little special place in the grocery store only some people go to. They are a cheese that took some old bearded guy a long time to craft somewhere in a barn or shack. Goats bleat on a hillside near where this cheese is made. (Meander through YouTube videos and you’ll find many performances filmed in a barn or yard.) The band’s live shows are pungent, for sake of the analogy — a punch in the gut. So, seeing such a non-generic group of songwriters promoting a rather generic retail store was disappointing.


Gap Avett Brothers

Avett Brothers Musical Avett Brothers

Gap, meet the Avett Brothers.

The Avett Brothers

Playful Avett Brothers

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I guess one must do what one must do. Fathers must feed their children and, if they hit it big enough, they should capitalize and feed their grandchildren. The Avett Brothers’ music went through a raggedy, wrinkled phase. A clean (Rick Rubin-produced) phase. So maybe the histories of these two different entities are not entirely unique, but are a rather good match. Next, we can only hope, the band avoids growing up and becoming the modern Gap, which adapts to the way the breeze blows, however it blows — a one-size-fits-all-and-the-jeans-square-women’s-butts-and-seventy-varietys-of-denim-and-holy-crap-we-love-basic T’s kind of band.

I don’t know. Good for The Avett Brothers for being badass enough to strike a major endorsement deal. The Avett Brothers move people and it’s smart for a business to pick them up. It’s just that, for a second, I wanted one of those plastic drawstring bags to put over my head.



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