Class Claims Gap Pulls a Switcheroo

     LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Gap sells inferior clothing at factory outlet stores to unwitting customers who believe they are the same quality clothes as are sold in the retailer's main stores, according to a class action lawsuit.
     Gap and Banana Republic customer Linda Rubenstein sued The Gap in Superior Court, alleging false advertising, unfair competition and violation of California consumer laws.
     Rubenstein claims Gap hides tags with three squares on Gap and Banana Republic clothes that are sold only in outlet stores. The tag does not indicate that the clothing is of "lesser quality" and customers have no way of knowing what the tag means, she says.
     "There is no other indication, in the store or on the garment, that suggests the factory store clothing was never actually sold at the traditional Banana Republic or Gap stores and/or made of lesser quality," the complaint states.
     "Unless the ordinary shopper is diligent in their retail store research what the three squares mean, defendant's deceptive practices will not be discovered."
     Rubenstein wants The Gap enjoined from unlawful business practices, plus restitution, disgorgement, an accounting, damages and costs.
     In the multibillion-dollar clothing and accessories business, The Gap is a dominant force, with Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta, and Intermix brands. The multinational retailer's net sales in 2013 were $16.1 billion, according to the lawsuit.
     Rubenstein is represented by Heather Baker, with Kirtland & Packard, of El Segundo.
     The Gap did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
     Represented by the same attorney, Linda Rubinstein filed a similar class action against Neiman Marcus, on Aug. 7.