Writing Gap's Next Chapter: Retail Innovation + Brand Strategy

THE ASSIGNMENT Give new life to the Gap, positioning them for success in the future.

BRAND CONTEXT + CHALLENGE  With the uptick in niche fashion brands and proliferation of fast-fashion retailers like H&M and Forever 21, Gap is being challenged on both ends of the competitive spectrum as well as wounded by the decline of the shopping mall, the stronghold of Gap's growth and success in the 80's through early 00's.

METHODOLOGY To better understand the brand's current perception, we interviewed many customers, some current and past employees, visited multiple retail stores to 'shop-along' with people, and did social listening on twitter/instagram/facebook/forums/blogs. We found that:

  • Even Gap fans admit that quality has suffered and constant sales mean they never buy at full price, reinforcing the quality problem.
  • Employees are often focused on sales, but there's opportunity to problem-solve and genuinely help consult on customers' wardrobes.
  • People nostalgically remember and often glorify the Gap of in the 90's and early 00's (or even earlier), when it was simpler, iconic, and more focused

TARGET The new Gap will resonate with young professionals that are building careers rather than keeping up with trends. Currently growing out of the "Forever 21" category as they mature, they still remember a simpler time in the 90's and early 00's when Gap stood for staple classics in their wardrobe as a kid or young adult. These members of Gen Y and Gen X value functionality and efficiency and look for a wardrobe that makes them feel like they're on the path to success. They look up to business leaders and icons like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Sheryl Sandberg, and seek a wardrobe that matches their professional ambitions. They want to dress smart, but ultimately they're looking to dazzle with their smarts and accomplishments, not their outfit.

STRATEGY Show that a simplified wardrobe signals personal confidence.

Our goal was to shape the brand around 3 main tenets: empowering consumers that are goal and action oriented, only offering only clothes designed with function and purpose, and pursuing timelessness as a brand by being anti-trend. Therefore, we pared down product lines around the idea of capsule wardrobes, redesigned the retail experience around simplicity, and limited accessories and line extensions. We took inspiration from leaders like Steve Jobs who had reduced their wardrobe to one iconic outfit so they could focus on doing things that matter.

CONCEPT DressCode: Clothes that Work.

DELIVERABLES Brand Manifesto, Print, In-Store/Experience Design, Product Innovation





  • We redesigned the interior to be organized around four key capsule wardrobe collections with items tailored to specific lifestyles/career types
  • The runway allows shoppers to see the products in action, easily find the items they're wearing through the app, and take photos with their smartphone to reserve them for the dressing room
  • We redesigned the dressing rooms to allow shoppers to trial products in real conditions
  •  "The Hub" in-store will be a place where shoppers can sign-up for appointments to try on clothes or meet with stylists (inspired by the Genius Bar)
  • A personality test will match specific products from each wardrobe to their lifestyle matches. Once they have registered, they can input the clothing items they already own to offer more personalized recommendations.



  • To launch Gap Dresscode and show our clothes in action, we are bringing our new line of items to a "runway" on the subway, showing the new designs to people on their commute
  • "Travel kits" filled with capsule wardrobes and essential supplies that could be gifted in airports (via kiosk) to those who lost their luggage


Overall Strategy: Gap's digital strategy should be two-fold. First, it needs to educate people on the merits of the the simple but sophisticated Gap DressCode concept. Second, we must associate Gap with confident leaders and career success. Channels and tactics below are categorized into paid, earned, and owned media on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.


  • Promoted posts/videos on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram spotlighting successful and ambitious people along with their personal Gap DressCode work uniform, Instagram & Facebook carousel with capsule wardrobe examples for each type of "DressCode" lifestyle with click-through options leading to customization quiz 
  • Guest/influencer bloggers on their uniform, career, and simple getting ready or dressing tips with sponsored content on fashion and career-focused sites like Refinery29, Harpers Bazaar, The Muse, LinkedIn.
  • Sponsor and live-stream a mini TedX @Gap Conference on Gap's social channels with speakers on how to live simply, effectively, and successfully in both your personal and professional life.

Earned: Encourage fans of the Facebook page, followers on Instagram to share photo/video of their personal DressCode and how they keep their wardrobe hassle-free to focus on what's important to win scholarships for graduate or business schools

Owned: Blog posts, videos of interviews with ambitious people in different career paths, sharing/reposting of User Generated Content


  • 18-35, in top 10 metro
  • Fans of business/industry publications (FastCompany, AdAge, Wired, VentureBeat, WSJ, Cnet, etc.)
  • Fans of higher education institutions
  • College/university/graduate school students
  • LinkedIn users


  • Clicks from carousel & promoted posts
  • ROI on Online Purchases from click-throughs
  • Post engagements (likes, video views, comments)
  • @user tags in comments
  • Hashtag use
  • Engagements
  • Consumption breakdown
  • New page likes vs. Unlikes 




TEAM Greg Donnelly (ST)Anne Marie Wonder (AD)Shannon Smith (AD), Scott Lucien (CW), Emily Reese (CT)