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Marissa Webb and the power of prints

Polka dots or zebra print? Subtle stripes or bold plaid?

In this week's Ask A Stylist column from trendsetting fashion blog Who What Wear, Banana Republic Creative Director Marissa Webb — who also serves as Who What Wear's resident stylist for 2015 — talks using prints to express your individuality.

"Prints are very personal but can really enhance your wardrobe," Marissa writes in her weekly column. "Finding ones that fit your style personality isn't as hard as we often think!"

Prints have the power to create subtle texture or make a bold statement, depending on a pattern's size and color. Marissa encourages incorporating printed pieces into your wardrobe to enhance your favorite looks, and offers a few examples of her favorite items in stores — from Banana Republic and beyond — to do just that. Her suggestions cover classic patterns — polka dots, stripes, plaid, animal, floral — but also expand the traditional "print" definition to include a creative mix of bright colors.

If you're a solid-colors addict, or aren't quite ready to accept leopard print as a neutral, Marissa encourages you to take baby steps into the world of prints by playing with accessories. "They're the perfect place to be daring," Marissa tells her Ask A Stylist readers. "I think of them as the icing on the cake!"

Get personal style advice from Marissa through Who What Wear and the power of that fashionably blue — albeit unpatterned — little bird: Tweet questions on which you'd like the creative director's point of view by using the hashtag #WWWAskMarissa.

For a weekly dose of fashion inspiration, tune in to the Who What Wear blog every Sunday for Marissa's Ask A Stylist column. And get ready to rock the week ahead.











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Gap Japan shows its Pride

Gap Japan is officially coming out for Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2015.

In support of the local LGBT community, the brand is showing up on two fronts.

This past weekend, Gap took part in the Rainbow Pride Festa, providing attendees with information about the company's diverse, inclusive culture as well as a booth offering temporary facial tattoos and free T-shirt iron printing.

The brand is also sponsoring a photography exhibition titled “OUT IN JAPAN" #001 Portraits — a collection of more than 100 portraits of LGBT community members taken by photographer Leslie Kee, who is known for his celebrity photography. The showcase is being displayed in the Gap Flagship Harajuku this week.

The overall concept is just one more way to highlight the company's Diversity & Inclusion efforts leading into Golden Week in Japan, which is the longest vacation period of the year for the country.


Gap Inc.'s Leah Johnson finds her song

Welcome to “After Hours," a new series showcasing the creative, passionate people that make Gap Inc. They are more than their titles; they are innovative individuals with awesome stories to share.

By the time Leah Johnson settled into her first job, the music had stopped.

A singer since childhood, Leah grew up in a house filled with song. Her father was a singer in an R&B group that would often practice in the Johnson home, with young Leah tapping away on the kitchen table to the beat. When asked to sing a tune, she was quick to belt out her go-to jam, Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All."

"I remember when I was 4 thinking that I wanted to be a singer. I used to sing all the time and play the piano at my aunt's house, being really annoying and just making up songs," the 37-year-old recalled. “When I'm singing, it feels like it's the ultimate state of being alive. It's an amazing expression and release."

But she put her passion on indefinite hold to focus on her career — a safe path in business that landed her with financial giant Merrill Lynch in New York City.

She wouldn't rediscover her voice until one sunny morning, when the entire world changed.

“I was working right across the street from the World Trade Center on September 11. After that first building fell, I didn't know that it had actually fallen because I was inside of my building," she recalled. “I just saw a big cloud of smoke coming toward me and I thought it was a bomb.

“I really thought I was going to die," she said. And in that split second, Leah had an a-ha moment: She was making the wrong sacrifices for a life she had never really envisioned for herself. “I just remember thinking, 'I could die today hating everything about my life, and what would be the point?'

“It was a wake-up call for me," she said. “I was so affected by almost losing the ability to do what I wanted to do, that I was compelled … it was like 'I just have to do this.'"

Leah picked the mic back up, and went on a vocal tear.

She joined up with a local performer she met through Craigslist, forming a collaboration that would span years. And in 2009, one fateful restaurant run-in turned into an international gig with C&C Music Factory rapper Freedom Williams. She would be filling in female vocals for the group, belting out classic lyrics like "Everybody dance now!"

“It was crazy. It was bigger than anything I had ever done," said Leah, who found herself sharing a stage with many of her childhood idols. “We were in Rhode Island, performing with groups like Lisa Lisa, the Sugar Hill Gang, Cover Girls, Rob Base and The Jets. After we performed, I went over to say hello to the Jets, because when I was a little girl, I lived for them. And then they asked for my autograph on the poster. I was like, 'What?! Are you kidding me right now?' I thought, 'This is amazing.'"

On tour, Leah traveled to places such as Bulgaria, Istanbul and the Dominican Republic. “I was so nervous [to be on an international stage], but knew I had to go out and kill it."

And that's pretty much the attitude she maintains to this day. Whether it's following through with an audition for “The Voice" — her manager signed her up on a lark, though she didn't make the final cut — or taking center stage at a company presentation, Leah says she's found the perfect balance in her life between work and music.

“I'm equal parts left- and right-brained; I'm a creative but I'm also very organized," she said. And that's why Leah is with Gap Inc., where she's now working as a senior analyst. “The culture here is what definitely keeps me here. I love working at Gap Inc. It's not like I'm just doing this to pass the time. It's really important for me that I work at a place where my team is supportive of me in all aspects of my life. I mean, when I went to Bulgaria, they were like, 'Send us pictures!'"

These days, Leah is keeping local. She often performs around the city, describing her sound as jazz-inflected soul. Her influences include her own father, and legends such as Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner and Ella Fitzgerald.

What ultimately sustains Leah is simple: keeping the music going.

“For me, it's like breath; it's like breathing," she said. "I just have to do this. There is no other choice."


Red is in Fashion

Tomorrow, red is your power color.

April 14 is National Equal Pay Day, which has inspired a national movement to wear red — symbolizing how women are in the "red" compared to their male counterparts. In the U.S., Equal Pay Day represents how many extra days women have to work in 2015 to make as much as men did in 2014.

At Gap Inc., every day is Equal Pay Day. Women and men are paid dollar for dollar — equal pay for equal work — across the globe.

The Gap was founded in 1969 as an equal investment between a woman and a man — Doris Fisher and her husband, Don. Gender equality is built into the fabric of the company culture, and today, women make up approximately 73 percent of the company's workforce.

But in the U.S., pay equality still has a long way to go. On average, women make 78 cents to a man's dollar. That amounts to women losing nearly $500,000 to the gender pay gap over the course of their careers.

At Gap Inc., we're proud to be a leader in pushing the equal pay conversation forward. That's why we're joining the national movement to wear red in support of equal pay for equal work.

So click those ruby slippers, and speak out for equal pay. Join the conversation on social media by participating in the “Every Day is #EqualPayDay" campaign.



Every day is #EqualPayDay

Gap Inc. pays women and men on average globally dollar for dollar — equal pay for equal work. Last summer, the company for the first time released data confirming equal pay for equal work across the globe, and reconfirmed that data this spring.

Read more about the importance of Equal Pay. #Letsdomore