Gap brings aboard designer Zac Posen, as it aims for a bigger role in ‘the cultural conversation’



Gap Inc. on Monday said it had appointed fashion designer Zac Posen as the clothing retailer’s new creative director and chief creative officer of Old Navy, part of the chain’s search for greater relevance amid uneven demand for apparel.

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Chief Executive Richard Dickson, in a statement, said Posen’s “technical expertise and cultural clarity have consistently evolved American fashion, making him a great fit for the company as we ignite a new culture of creativity across the portfolio and reinvigorate our storied brands.”

The company — which runs its namesake Gap Stores, Old Navy, Banana Republic and the women’s athletic-apparel chain Athleta — also noted Posen’s “technical excellence and body-positive designs.”

A New York native, Posen, 43, first launched his own fashion label in 2001, and became a sought-after dress designer for red-carpet events for celebrities such as Rihanna, Natalie Portman and Oprah Winfrey. In the years prior to that label’s shuttering in 2019, Posen was also a “Project Runway” judge, and helped design clothing for Brooks Brothers and Delta Air Lines Inc.
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Gap said that Posen, in his new roles, would report to Old Navy Chief Executive Haio Barbeito. As creative director for Gap as a whole, Posen will serve as a “cultural curator and creative partner” to Dickson.

“I’m eager to join Gap Inc. now as brand reinvigoration kicks up across the portfolio, rooted in great product, experiences and a new culture of creativity,” Posen said in a statement. 

Shares of Gap were up 0.4% after hours, after closing 0.8% higher during regular trading hours.

The move to bring Posen aboard is the latest effort by Gap to recalibrate its executive team in recent months. Last month, the company appointed Eric Chan, the former CFO of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, as chief business and strategy officer, and Mattel Inc.
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veteran Amy Thompson as chief people officer. Dickson, the former chief operating officer of Mattel, became CEO in August.

The past two years of inflation have cut into demand for clothing, forcing many retailers to cut prices to attract customers. While Gap’s quarterly results in November — including a same-store sales gain from Old Navy — launched the stock higher, Dickson, during the retailer’s earnings call at that time, said there was room for improvement at the company’s retail chains.

In particular, he said the Gap had been “far too quiet in the cultural conversation.” Old Navy, he said, needed stronger marketing and product assortment to attract families, and needed to do a better job “balancing essentials with exciting new trends and a pricing strategy that clearly communicates jaw-dropping value.”

“We need to strengthen our portfolio of brands with crisp identities and purpose,” Dickson said on the call. “We need to create trend-right product assortments with a clear point of view to deliver beyond just needs to also deliver on wants.”

Last month, Levi Strauss & Co.
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discussed plans to roll out newer, more comfortable jeans. Nike Inc.
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has also stressed the importance of product “newness” to growth. Both companies are also cutting costs in the wake of weaker demand.

Shares of Gap are up 37.2% over the past 12 months.



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