The Gap, Inc.
2 Folsom Street, San Francisco, California 94105, U.S.A.
$14.4 billion (2003)
1969 as The Gap Stores, Inc.
448140 Family Clothing Stores
Founded as a single store by Donald G. Fisher and wife Doris, The Gap, Inc. has evolved into a
major retail company with well known brands, including its namesake, Banana Republic, and
Old Navy. The firm sells a variety of casual-style and urbane
clothing to men, women, and
children in over 4,250 stores across the United States and in Canada, France, Japan, Germany,
and the United Kingdom. The Gap flourished through the 1980s and 1990s under the leadership
of Millard "Mickey" Drexler but has battled tough times in the early years of the new century.
Drexler retired in 2002, and Paul Pressler was named CEO while Fisher remained chairman.
Donald Fisher was not of the generation to whom The Gap owes its popularity. A member of a
family that made its home in California for generations, Fisher was 40 years old and a successful
real estate developer in 1969 when he took note of a new trend among the city's increasingly
youth. Blue jeans, for years made chiefly by Levi Strauss & Co. for laborers and
outdoorsmen, were suddenly becoming a part of the
's standard costume. Durable,
cheap, comfortable, and acceptably
, jeans were the perfect uniform for a generation of
to demonstrate its
to corporate America.
Fisher was said to have conceived of The Gap when he was unable to find the right size of Levi's
in a department store in Sacramento, California. He realized that jeans had become more popular
than current merchandising outlets could accommodate, and like hamburgers, stereo equipment,
and gasoline, they could be sold through a chain of small stores devoted solely to that product.
With the help of his wife, Doris, Fisher opened a shop near San Francisco State University in one
of his own buildings, offering a combination of records and jeans. Their intention was to attract
jeans customers by means of the records, but at first no one noticed the jeans, and Fisher was
driven close to bankruptcy. In desperation, he placed ads in local newspapers announcing the
sale of "four tons" of jeans at rock-bottom prices, and the clothes were soon gone. To emphasize
the youthful ambiance of his new store, Fisher named it The Gap, an
to a then hot topic,
the Generation Gap.
When Fisher incorporated his business as The Gap Stores, Inc., it was an immediate success.
Although the Fishers had no experience in retailing, their stores' combination of jeans, low