At 51 years old, Gap Inc. is in a state of reinvention, advancing its sustainable practices, breaking into new product categories and launching highly anticipated collaborations with key pop figures.
In an earnings call last week following news of the Gap brand’s new venture into home with Walmart, Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal discussed the company’s relentless progress in the face of uncertainty, cracking the $4 billion sales mark and generating $166 million in net income. The company’s success is heavily powered by the Old Navy and Athleta brands, which represented 66 percent of sales in the first quarter, moving closer to the target of 70 percent by the end of 2023.
Growth remains strong in categories such as active and fleece—two champions of the pandemic—and seasonal categories like denim, dresses and shorts show signs of progress, Syngal said. She believes this activity, as well as the uptick in brick-and-mortar foot traffic, is the result successful Covid-19 vaccine distributions in the U.S.
“Strength in stores and the shift in product mix signal a new stage in pandemic recovery as vaccines roll out, enabling the return of family vacations and in-person learning,” she said.
For this same reason, the company is betting big on the back-to-school season, particularly now as students are returning to the classroom. The news bodes well for denim, a category that’s continuing to progress in terms of sustainability. Syngal pointed to Gap brand’s latest Generation Good collection, which she said “has the most sustainable tees and denim to-date.”
The collection spans women’s, men’s, kids’ and baby, with highlights including organic cotton T-shirts with planet-friendly messages like “There is no Planet B” and “No more waste,” and jeans and denim shorts made with recycled polyester and post-consumer recycled cotton. All items in the collection are made using a water-saving wash process that eliminates the need for harmful PP sprays or stonewashing, and include safer dyes and finishing processes.
Syngal also called attention to Old Navy’s move to eliminate plastic shopping bags in the U.S. and Canada by 2023, and Banana Republic’s 2021 spring collection, 60 percent of which was manufactured using more sustainable fibers.
“The power of our portfolio also means our brands can drive sustainable change at scale,” she said.
The power of its portfolio also made it possible to land a deal with rapper Kanye West’s Yeezy brand back in June 2020. Though Syngal was vague about the collaboration’s launch date or any other details surrounding the collection, she noted that it’s a topic that’s generated loads of curiosity.
“It’s the number one question we get,” she said. “And every day, with customers and across social media, we see the height building from speculation around the product’s supposed launch dates. Yeezy Gap is a work in progress and remains a significant opportunity for us.”
She added that the collaboration is a win for the entire Gap Inc. portfolio, as it serves as a source of inspiration for all teams.
“What I can tell you is that the creativity is through the roof and it’s spilling over to the brand and it’s inspiring our teams more broadly,” she said.