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March 10, 2007

Gap’s Boyfriend Trouser Gets the Prize for Worst Product Name of 2007 to Date

Gap LogoThe new Boyfriend Trouser product name is one of the worst examples of product naming in the last few months for a couple of reasons.

  • First, the obvious: according to Yesterday’s Salad, that word "trouser" makes the brand name sound "like a British B-movie murder mystery," because people who shop at the Gap do not wear trousers; they wear pants, khakis or jeans. I’m not sure that the word "trouser" is commonly used in the singular, although it can be used as a verb (if you are British author PG Wodehouse), as in "he trousered the money."
  • Second, the product name Boyfriend Trouser is not like a woman's "date dress" or her "fat sweater" or her "follow me home" stilettos. In other words, this is not supposed to be the pair of trousers you wear to see your boyfriend. Instead, it is a pair of pants made to look like you stole them from your boyfriend. As Josh Eisenberg points out, the problem here is that you are really not stealing from your boyfriend in this case.

Here's the Gap Boyfriend Trouser TV ad, in case you want to see it.

An insightful blog post on Jewess With Attitude calls for "" — ’s brand naming breakthrough, it seems. JWA asks some hard questions about the Boyfriend Trouser, like, do you buy the pants to "fill the void" if you do not have a boyfriend? On the other hand, JWA points out that if you do have a boyfriend, you could just steal his pants and save yourself $49.50. The JWA blogger asks if you’d be trying to make your current boyfriend jealous by wearing this brand name — suggesting to him, perhaps at a subliminal level, that you are wearing trousers stolen from some other boyfriend? Read the post.

In the meantime, two things seem clear to some bloggers: the eighties are over and with them our obsession with baggy khakis.

Brando suggests that maybe they are meant to actually "make you feel like your boyfriend." Or maybe the Gap is suggesting women wear these to help them find a boyfriend. If that’s what's happening here, it won’t work.

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Posted by William Lozito at March 10, 2007 10:12 AM
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2 Comments

I guess my years in retail have inured me to this sort of lingo. "Boyfriend"-as-modifier has been with us for many years; see J. Crew's current Cashmere Boyfriend Sweater (http://www.jcrew.com/catalog/product.jhtml?id=prod80344423&catId=cat90224). Among garmentos, the term refers only to fit (slouchy, saggy); the "boyfriend" story was made up to explain the cut. And "trouser" (singular) is another garmento-ism: Listen to any episode of Project Runway or What Not to Wear and you'll hear "We LOVE the shoe!" (i.e., both shoes) or "Let's do something about the sleeve" (i.e., both sleeves). Mind you, these are people who say "colorway" to mean color.

These pants serve a specific purpose for most women. We do not intend to wear our boyfriend's pants in public, nor do we plan to wear baggy, slouchy khakis for a day out. These pants, as well as "boyfriend" tops, are good for the mornings you plan to lounge around the house before really getting ready, but you still may need to sneak outside for the mail. Just like those college days where you stole your boyfriend's pants while the laudry was running, you slip into these for the comfort of pajama bottoms with a look of real pants.

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