Obituary: Don Fisher, Gap Co-founder, 82
Doris and Donald Fisher in 1969. (Photo by Courtesy Photos)
Fisher stepped down as chairman of the company in 2003, to be succeeded by his son Bob, but continued as chairman emeritus and a director until his death.
Fisher??™s demise comes just more than a month after the 40th anniversary of when he and his wife founded the company, named for the ???generation gap??? between Baby Boomers and their parents. Then 41 ??” and with no retailing experience ??” he abandoned a well-established career in real estate development to become the clothier to his sons??™ generation just weeks after Woodstock and a month after man landed on the moon. The company recently introduced 1969 brand jeans to great fanfare in commemoration of the anniversary.
The entire enterprise grew out of a frustrating shopping experience. The Fishers made their midlife career move after they had difficulty exchanging an ill-fitting pair of jeans and failed to find an adequate denim size assortment at local department stores. They raised $63,000 to launch the first store in their hometown in 1969, and sales reached $2 million the following year, when a second unit opened in nearby San Jose, Calif.
Initially, Gap bore a strong resemblance to any of the jeans and head shops that proliferated at the time. Although it would later pioneer and prosper from a vertically integrated approach in which it designed, sourced and sold only its own brands, the first Gap stores carried jeans and sportswear from its corporate neighbor in San Francisco, Levi Strauss & Co., as well as music and accessories. But even those early stores were different, offering a wider array of Levi??™s styles and sizes than many of its peers, and selling them from small stores with merchandise stacked floor to ceiling, like books. Clerks had to reach the higher shelves using ladders like in libraries.
From the start, and, observers have pointed out, in no small part because of Fisher??™s real estate background, Gap pursued expansion vigorously and didn??™t hesitate to turn to the public markets for growth capital, listing on the New York and Pacific Stock Exchanges with an offering of 1.2 million shares in 1976. The pursuit of expansion would become a stumbling block for the company over the course of the last decade, cutting into profits and causing the firm to put the brakes on what had been close to uninterrupted growth during its first 30 years.
What would prove to be Fisher??™s smartest move was to tap Millard ???Mickey??? Drexler as president and chief operating officer of the Gap division in 1983 from Ann Taylor. Over the next decade, the duo would revolutionize not only the way America and the world shopped, but also the way it dressed ??” turning basics into fashion, from white shirts to khakis ??” and along the way acquiring the fashion-at-a-price chain Banana Republic, then launching the lower-cost Old Navy and GapKids.
Drexler succeeded Fisher as president and ceo of the company in 1995, but left seven years later as its financial performance and brand appeal faltered. While the board said Drexler stepped down, he has repeatedly said he was fired.
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I Wanna Hold Your Handbag: Comme des Garcons’ Latest Deal
From WWD ISSUE 09/28/2009
The enigmatic Rei Kawakubo has come together with plenty of unusual partners, but her latest collaboration just might beat all. It??™s with The Beatles. Comme des Garcons and Apple Corps Ltd. ??“ the London-based company that manages the legacy and musical catalog of the British band – are teaming up to launch a new collection of bags under The Beatles/Comme des Garcons label, with the first styles slated to debut mid-November at Dover Street Market, Kawakubo??™s multi-brand emporium in London, and Gyre in Tokyo, with additional distribution to follow. While details were scarce at press time, the deal with Apple Corps is a long-term one, and could see Kawakubo also design other items such as T-shirts.
H&M Taps Rykiel As Its Next Guest Designer
PARIS–French designer Sonia Rykiel will be H&M’s next guest designer for holiday retailing.
For the first time, H&M has extended its designer collaborations to lingerie, with exclusive pieces designed by Rykiel to be launched for winter 2009 on Dec. 5 in 1,500 stores worldwide. At the same time, Sonia Rykiel will make this lingerie collection available in her boutiques around the world.
For spring 2010, Rykiel will design an iconic knitwear collection for women and girls, accompanied by accessories. This second collection will be launched in around 250 H&M stores on Feb. 20, 2010.
For complete coverage see Tuesday’s WWD.
Memo Pad: Hedi Slimane to Shoot Robert Pattinson…
From WWD ISSUE 09/28/2009
ANOTHER HEDI SHOOT: ???Twilight??? star Robert Pattinson graces the cover of the fall issue of Another Man, the men??™s spin-off from Another Magazine. Appropriately enough, the title??™s editor-in-chief, Jefferson Hack, tapped Hedi Slimane ??” who??™s known for his moody, shadowy images of youthful subjects ??” to shoot Pattinson. Along with Pattinson??™s interview with journalist Dave Calhoun, the issue also profiles Dennis Hopper and his photographic work and David de Rothschild, who??™s sailing across the Pacific in a boat made from plastic bottles, to highlight an area of pollution in the ocean.
To coincide with the release of Another Man, which hits newsstands Thursday, the magazine will today launch an online store, which will carry three limited edition art works created for the magazine by artists Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tom Friedman, and Vera Lehndorff (also known as the Sixties model Veruschka) and Holger Trulzsch, who have all worked with the title in the past. The Chapman brothers, for example, have created a hand-colored etching of their dark vision of a teddy bears??™ picnic, which comes in an edition of 120 and will sell for up to 1,925 pounds, or around $3,070. The Web site will also sell ???Another Fashion Book,??? which is made up of fashion editorials from the magazine, and ???Another Portrait Book,??? which will be published in November. Other products include a candle in collaboration with Colette, a fragrance with Le Labo and a bag designed by Peter Pilotto for Mismo, will be sold via the online store, as well as at retailers including Liberty in London, Colette in Paris, Opening Ceremony in New York and Los Angeles and Joyce in Hong Kong in mid-October. ??” Nina Jones
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–Nikki Cho Russo
Tags: Commes des Garcons x The Beatles, Don Fisher, Gap, H&M, Hedi Slimane, Sonia Rykiel