At Gap, The New Plan Is Old Navy

by MR Magazine Staff

San Francisco in 1967 hosted the spontaneous cultural phenomenon known as the Summer of Love, when some 100,000 hippies and flower children, clad in peasant blouses and shredded bell bottoms, danced down Haight Street seeking peace, love and understanding. At about the same time, Don Fisher, a 30-something San Francisco native and hotel owner, just wanted to find a pair of jeans that fit. From that frustration, Fisher went on to disrupt department store apparel sales, by filling a gap in their merchandising. A department store where he bought ill-fitting Levi’s didn’t have a better-fitting pair in exchange, yet he knew that Levi Strauss & Co. had a plethora of sizes and designs. He persuaded the iconic jeans maker that it needed a specialty store that would be more hip than a department store and filled to the brim with more of its styles. In 1969, Fisher and his wife Doris opened their first The Gap store (a reference to “generation gap”) in San Francisco. By 1973 there were more than 25 locations, including on the East Coast, and in 1976 the company went public. But it was arguably Mickey Drexler (who recently stepped down as CEO of J. Crew) as the new CEO in 1983, who made The Gap a household name. Drexler grew The Gap into a global powerhouse with hundreds of locations worldwide and a merchandising focus that added casual wear beyond jeans including high quality basics like sweats that, while hardly luxe, fetched a pretty penny from higher income customers. Read more at Retail Dive.