If you are a person of a certain age (let’s call it “not young”) with certain sartorial tastes (let’s call them “basic”) you shopped at the Gap in the ‘90s.
And while you fingered stacks of folded t-shirts and khakis, you were exposed to a carefully branded soundtrack: a four-hour monthly music playlist that the company carefully selected (we didn’t say “curated” back then) to suit your in-store experience. The “Gap sound” was upbeat but relaxed, an unmistakable mix of perky U.S. alt-pop, smooth contemporary British R&B, and ethereal trip-hop. If the Stereo MC’s had never existed, the Gap would have had to invent them.
But I don’t have to describe the sound of the Gap, because a nostalgic former employee named Mike Bise is gathering in-store playlists from 1992 through 2006 to post on his blog. (Special thanks to music critic, journalism professor, and all-around swell guy Eric Harvey for uncovering this archive. Hi Eric!)
For any Gap customer in the Clinton years, just seeing the names “Swing Out Sister” and “Lisa Stansfield” this close to one another should be enough to inspire a Proustian reverie of primary-colored memories.
Is there any more dismaying symptom of how late capitalism has warped our imaginations than our need to indulge in nostalgia for past modes of consumption? Probably not! Now here's a medley of TV commercials to start your weekend off right.