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Tuesday
Jun162015

What it takes to pop-up a "shop"

Every year, brands get a chance to translate their story into a physical space.

Those are told through vignettes—constructed for Investor Day—showcasing the hottest, newest, products yet to hit the shelves for the annual event. The idea is to be able to walk investors through the expression of a particular brand, as told through upcoming product and an inspirational layout.

But what does it take to bring a brand to life? Quite literally, it's months of planning, more than 24 hours of construction time and, in Athleta's case, more than 160 pieces of product, one spin bike, one bicycle and a full-size yurt.

We chatted with Andrea Hicklin, senior manager of external communications, who oversaw Athleta's vignette along with the visual-merchandising team. She broke down what it takes to take a vignette from concept to completion.

Product, Product, Product

Like all the brands, Athleta presented its top Fall 2015 product, including the first line from Derek Lam 10 Crosby: performance bottoms in a range of brilliant colors and incredible yoga, run and lifestyle pieces that feature new, washable wool sweaters—the first for the brand.

“The team did an incredible job of bringing to life what Athleta stands for this Fall season. We took inspiration from our Fall catalog shoot and our in-store experience to create what you see in this vignette," Andrea said. “Ultimately, it's about bringing the product to life to inspire active women. "

Mannequins—now with heads and hairstyles

The brand brought out its newest mannequins—designed by the Athleta visual team—that include a few new additions; namely heads and hairstyles.

“These mannequins were designed by our own team, and not only include heads, but also come in new poses like the headstand and the cycling mannequins," Andrea said. “We're a brand that represents a variety of sports and that's one of our differentiators, so we wanted our mannequins that reflect that."

About that yurt…

Athleta's inspiration for this Fall's collection stems from the brand's California roots and heritage. Product imagery was shot throughout the gorgeous woods of Northern California, including Big Sur, Marin and other locales throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Those features were instrumental to the concept of the vignette, replete with natural wood finishes, scrims of redwood and a full-size yurt.

“We come from this beautiful outdoor landscape and with that comes a particular outdoor lifestyle," Andrea said. “ We live our lives outdoors and we design clothes for that lifestyle."

Look for Athleta's Fall product in stores and in catalogs in August.

Monday
Jun152015

Getting a leg up with LearnUp and Old Navy

In today's job market reality, that new diploma or personal recommendation is often not enough to stand out.

That's where a program like LearnUp comes in. The training platform helps entry-level candidates learn some basic skills before they apply for that new job. And it's now building on a partnership with Old Navy, reaching more than 200,000 job candidates and preparing people for jobs at its 350 stores across the United States.

As part of the partnership, LearnUp and Old Navy are also building an initiative called 'LearnUp the Ladder,' which will provide free online education for anyone wanting to learn entry-level and management skills in retail.

Job applicants using the LearnUp platform will receive access to free online job-specific skills and interview preparation and a virtual job coach, tripling their chances of getting hired in the marketplace.

"This new, expanded partnership between Old Navy and LearnUp will help us recruit retail-ready employees who can help us continue to delight our customers while empowering the next generation of leaders for retail," said Leslie Anderson, Senior Director of HR for Old Navy. "This year, we are excited that our partnership with LearnUp will enable us to connect more than 200,000 people with the skills needed for success in a retail environment."

The program is aligned with LearnUp CEO and Co-Founder Alexis Ringwald's overall strategy for those looking to enter an ever-evolving job market.

"Entry-level job seekers face a more challenging environment today than ever before," Ringwald said. "When workers are provided the opportunity to learn in advance, they not only increase their chances of employment, but employers gain access to quality hires who perform better and stay longer. By leveraging technology to educate workers in job-specific skills at scale, this partnership represents a new model for economic empowerment and opportunity in America."

Thursday
Jun112015

The History Behind National Seersucker Day

Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate," Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird," even a few of the men from the AMC drama “Mad Men," prove that seersucker is deeply rooted in vintage menswear. But what's most interesting is the way seersucker is being interpreted today to suit a sportswear-centric male and female audience. June 11, 2015 is National Seersucker Day and many will be donning their seersucker including several members of Congress for a special photo on Capitol Hill.

The heritage brand Haspel is spearheading a lot of the excitement around the day – and with good reason. In 1906, Joseph Haspel Sr., decided to take seersucker, a textile that was generally used for work practices and create a special suit that could be worn in the summer. It was in New Orleans, where Haspel is still based, that the seersucker suite grew to popularity. Part of what gives seersucker such staying power is its ability to function and let the skin breathe in the hotter months.

Seersucker Thursday started in Washington D.C. by former United States Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) in 1996. There was no air conditioning in any government buildings until the 1950s. Before then, members of congress and other politicians wore seersucker as a way of staying relatively cool in the summer. In 2012, the day was discontinued and this year will be its first back in Washington D.C. led by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

With New York getting its first men's fashion week and the London Collections: MEN celebrating their seventh season, menswear is stepping into its own space with a generation filled with enthusiasts who love the classics. Laurie Haspel, owner of her great-great grandfather's eponymous brand sat down with Gap Inc. to answer a few questions about the national day and seersucker's transition to contemporary IT garment:

Gap Inc.: Now that we know a little about the history of seersucker, how relevant is it today?

Laurie Haspel: Actually it has become just as relevant as it was then. Over the years, we've changed the way we wear it. It started as a tailored item that was pigeonholed into that look. If anything it has become more relevant in the sportswear realm.

Gap Inc.: What was the most successful decade for seersucker in terms of popularity?

Laurie Haspel: You could say that perhaps the heyday could have been in the 60s and 70s, and other brands didn't pick up on the wave until probably the 80s.

Gap Inc.: What about construction? We know why it works in terms of the fabric being light weight but what about how it's made?

Laurie Haspel: The biggest construction change for suits is that we'll make half-lined or not lined suits. Sometimes lining a suit will counteract the purpose of having a summer suit. One thing that we do is a lot of trim detail – not just in our sportswear, adding a taste of seersucker to everything we make in perhaps the lining for example, just to remind our customer that they're wearing Haspel.

Gap Inc.: What are some challenges that come with getting a younger customer interested in Seersucker?

Laurie Haspel: Sometimes people are afraid to put it on because they don't know how to wear it. It is something we try to overcome by selling our suiting as separates. We want people to wear it how it is best suited for their lifestyle and purpose. You can take the same jacket and put it on someone who is 60 years old and they can wear it differently than someone in their 20s. There's no set way to wear it. When people get that mindset out of their head, it becomes easier. People have to wear it as they want to wear it. And remember that there are no true instructions on a proper way to wear seersucker.

Haspel is just one of many brands that have taken seersucker and made it their own. Here are a few options for any wardrobe just in time for the summer:

1.Men's Slim-Fit Seersucker Shirts (Old Navy) 2. Seersucker Shirt (Gap3. Seersucker stripe pants (Gap) 4. Seersucker Tie (Banana Republic) 5. Tailored Slim-Fit Striped Seersucker Shirt (Banana Republic) 6. Women's Plus Striped Strapless Seersucker Dresses (Old Navy7. Bahama Striped Boat Shoes by Sperry (Athleta8. Modern Slim Seersucker Blazer (Banana Republic)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Haspel and The Lead PR

Tuesday
Jun092015

The Checkout: A classic in bright white

Take a look at some of our customers' favorites, available now.

Customer: Camille Houze, 25, from Paris, France.

Spotted at: Gap store #6206 Cesar's Palace Forum Shops, 3500 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas NV

Favorite in-store item right now: Gap's white 1969 denim jacket. Also available in light indigo and saddle blue, the jacket's tailored silhouette features single-button cuffs, a point collar with front button placket, chest patch pockets with button-flap closures, angled welt pockets, and a banded waist with button-tabs at each side.

What brought her in to shop: “The jackets — especially the jean jackets — and the shirts.”

How she describes her style: Colorful and casual. “I like to dress with lots of colors and jeans. I like bright.”

Monday
Jun082015

Buying into the bucket bag trend

Who knew that a 1930s vehicle for champagne would translate into one of 2015's trendiest products?

Originally created as a stylish, yet sturdy method for transporting five bottles of champagne by Gaston-Louis Vuitton in 1932, the bucket bag has gone through several renditions before becoming one of this year's must-have items.

The bag is known for a versatile shape, roomier-than-most carrying space, and longer straps that translate across a variety of personal styles.

Especially popular in the 1970s, bucket bags once again set off a frenzy this past spring, when bag maker Mansur Gavriel released its customizable leather bucket bag. The bag sold instantly — leaving fashionistas worldwide begging for more.

Since then, the trend shows no signs of slowing down. With 1970s-inspired fashions resurfacing for fall, INTERMIX reports many of its designer bucket bags on order, with deliveries scheduled now through October.

Whether you prefer something bohemian with suede and fringe accents, or sleek and structured leather, bucket bags are the perfectly practical, stylish accent.

Here's a look at some of the season's hottest bucket bags, curated by INTERMIX and Banana Republic. Get this fashion must-have now for summer and fall — champagne bottles optional.

From left: Barbara Bonner Andrea Tribal Mesh Bucket Bag from INTERMIX; Sara Battaglia Jasmine Fringe Bucket Bag from INTERMIX; Stella McCartney Chain Trim Bucket Bag from INTERMIX; Banana Republic Drawstring Bucket Crossbody in Caramel; See by Chloe Vicki Tassel Bucket Bag from INTERMIX; Banana Republic Drawstring Bucket Crossbody in White; Jerome Dreyfuss Gary Bucket Crossbody from INTERMIX.