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Gap appoints fashionista start-up shop to help halt declining sales

LONDON - Clothing giant Gap has appointed a startup agency, launched by Donna Karan's creative director, to handle the brand's advertising in a bid to halt a worldwide decline in sales across its stores.

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Laird & Partners becomes only the second agency to be appointed by Gap in its history. Laird has been set up by Trey Laird, the former corporate creative director at fashion house Donna Karan.

Laird has been tasked with handling all advertising, direct marketing and in-store marketing for Gap, Gap Kids and babyGap worldwide.

Its appointment follows the parting of the ways with Boston-based Modernista, which became Gap's agency appointment in October 2000. Modernista created spots throughout 2001, including those starring celebrities such as Macy Gray, Seal and Air.

Before the appointment of Modernista, Gap's ads had been developed by an in-house agency, which developed the Gap Khaki ads among others.

The retailer has seen its sales decline for 23 months in a row, partly due to the economy, but the chain has also been accused of making a series of fashion faux pas by diversifying from its trusted reputation of providing classic clothing.

However, the company is trying to help put a stop to the decline with the appointment of an agency with fashion expertise.

Gap president and chief executive Millard Drexler said in a statement: "Marketing is critical as we get our product right."

Laird has also been appointed to the Donna Karan account, after the fashion house moved the bulk of its creative services out of its in-house operations.

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