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An Old Navy store fights homelessness

Each year for at least two decades, thousands of Gap Inc. employees have provided for the less fortunate through Adopt a Family.

Diane Shuman, an Atlantic City Old Navy general manager, took it a step further this year by sleeping outside in the freezing cold, with nothing but a cardboard box for shelter as part of the Covenant House Sleep Out event.

The idea was to sleep on the streets in 22-degree weather to bring attention to homeless teens, with the goal of raising money for their care. Around 60 people participated.

“I only had to do it one night and I was struggling,” Diane says. “The wind was blowing and I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to make it until 5 a.m.?’ I was talking out loud to myself at one point saying, ‘Look, I have to suck it up; there are people who go through this, at 13 and 14 years old, wandering the streets. This is their daily existence.”

Diane has been involved with the Covenant House for about five years, and this is the second year she’s slept outside (this year, she was joined by her training manager Alicia Chiles).

Diane loves being able to link the event to Adopt a Family – and that’s the idea, she says. To take an organization that already means so much to her personally, and figure out a way to connect it to her work life.

This year, many people from Gap Inc. donated to the kids – $3,500 in total. And that’s in addition to the Adopt a Family gifts to come – hats, gloves, socks.

“We can’t afford to buy them all outfits, so we figure we’ll do our best to keep them warm,” Diane said. “I walked across the street to the Gap and Banana Republic stores there, and they’re going to join us.”

Her store in Atlantic City also teaches these same homeless teens about job readiness throughout the year – that includes help with resumes and career counseling.

“We really have adopted this community,” she said of Covenant House. “We’re working hard on the skills-based, job-training part of this too, so we can help them transition out of there.

“Their stories – some of these kids have been trafficked by their parents, they’ve been sold, abandoned. They came outside during the sleep out, just so surprised that we would do this for them.

“And that breaks my heart.”


Gal Meets Glam shares her holiday Wish List

Gap Inc. recently launched Wish List, an online tool that allows you and your loved ones to create a list of most-wanted items from across five of the company’s brands. Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam created and shared her Wish List, styling items from Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta for a cool, effortless holiday look.

I was excited to hear that Gap Inc. created a new feature that makes it easier than ever to create a list of my most-wanted items from five of their brands. I’m always shopping the diverse selections that they have across GapOld NavyBanana RepublicAthleta and Piperlime so I was definitely on board from the start. This new online tool simply titled, Wish List, lets you curate your favorite styles - up to 30 items from any of the five retailers. You can easily share this list across Facebook and Twitter or via email. It’s great for the holidays because you can send out your Wish List to your loved ones and they can stay within for a simple and seamless shopping experience!

I was fortunate enough to receive some of the items on my Wish List a little early this year. I tied in my favorite color, pale pink, with some sparkles and ultra soft cashmere to create a playful and cozy holiday look. These sequin joggers may be the best thing ever! In addition to this look, I’ve also shared a collage of some of my other favorite items from my list. What’s going on your Wish List this year?

Check out Julia’s full post here and see her complete Wish List here.


Gap Inc. elevates two proven executives

Today, we announced that two Gap Inc. executives, with 35 years of combined company experience between them, will take the helm of Gap and Banana Republic.

Jeff Kirwan will become Global President for Gap brand in December; Andi Owen will become Global President for Banana Republic effective January 5.

Kirwan has reported to current CEO and Chairman Glenn Murphy for the past three years as president of greater China for Gap Inc. Under his leadership in China, Gap has grown in China digitally and physically – between launching an aggressive e-commerce strategy while also opening 100 stores in the region in just four years. In prior roles, Kirwan has driven growth, retail operations and brand development at Gap and Old Navy.

Owen, who currently leads the Gap Outlet division, has been with the company for nearly 25 years, tackling leadership roles within merchandising, online and stores. She spent 19 years working within Banana Republic, rising from management positions in the field to successfully leading the Banana Republic Factory Store business before taking on her current assignment as EVP of Global Gap Outlet. 

The promotions were orchestrated by incoming CEO Art Peck, as he prepares to take on the role of Chief Executive Officer of Gap Inc. in February, with the full support of current Chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy.

“We’ll start 2015 with a management team comprised of both established executives and the next generation of brand leaders ready for the next generation of customers,” said Peck.  “We’ve provided a transition period that allows our teams to deliver a successful holiday, while gearing up for a future where great product showcased seamlessly across physical and digital experiences consistently delights our customers.”


Incoming CEO Art Peck on the future of fashion

“The most exciting time to be in a business in terms of opportunity is when there’s disruption.”

Incoming Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck, chatted with Buzzfeed this week on everything from how the smartphone is the future of fashion and the desk is dead. Here are a few highlights:

Now’s the perfect time to be in fashion. Art said he believes the smartphone and e-commerce are responsible for the industry’s most radical change since the boom of the big-box retailers in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“The collision of digital and physical that [is] going to really redefine the whole customer experience,” Art said. “It’s really going to come down to having the capacity as a company to try different things, to throw some stuff at the wall.”

Product comes first. If a customer doesn’t like a sweater, it doesn’t matter if they can order it online, in store or on a smartphone. The phone “is an enabler but it has to sit on a foundation of consistently great product across all of our brands,” he said.

Inspiration is everywhere. Art said he is constantly looking at customer behavior and new ways to fuse digital and the in-store experience. So he draws ideas from “museums … adapting to the digital age and experiences like a recent meal he ordered and paid for via tablet at a pho restaurant in San Francisco’s East Bay.”

No desk, no problem. “The desk, I think is a residual symbol of power that I don’t feel is really useful in my workplace because it’s a way of putting a barrier between yourself and another person in a lot of respects,” Art said.

Read the full article on Buzzfeed.


Truck "knitbombers" get cozy at Old Navy

Sister knitters Lorna and Jill Watt spent 140 hours using “every fiber art tool known to man” (bobby pins, thumb tacks, lazy Susans, and college ruled notebooks, included) to create their most ambitious yarnbomb to date: a 1950 Chevy truck at Old Navy’s flagship store in San Francisco.

“We pushed the limits of all our skills to make it perfect and amazing,” Lorna Watt noted on her Knits for Life site. “We are so proud of this project.”

It took 250 feet of Velcro, 30 skeins of Caron One Pound yarn (one skein makes four full-sized scarves), 140 hours of labor– the sisters spent 35 hours on design, 45 hours on construction, and 60 hours on installation– plus four graveyard shifts, to swaddle the 1950 Chevy pickup– known back in the day as “Half-Ton”– in a festive red and white snowflake-pattern knit “sweater.”

One grueling part of the yarnbomb involved programming color work into a computerized bulky knitting machine. “Imagine us sitting for hours, entering those gigantic snowflakes,” Lorna recalled. “Not to mention getting Gothic font right!”

The Old Navy 1950 Chevy Truck knitbomb is around through January.

Next for the sisters Watt: a Manhattan project. Lorna and Jill’s newest holiday yarnbomb will go up at Old Navy’s flagship New York City store on November 20.  “Let’s find out what yarn can do,” says Lorna.