Four Takeaways from Gap Inc.’s SF Design Week Panel Discussion

Gap Inc.
With Silicon Valley in our backyard, it’s no surprise that San Francisco is the home to many creative and innovative people. In celebration of that creativity and in an effort to continuously inspire and educate designers of tomorrow, once a year San Francisco Design Week hosts a festival right here in the heart of the city with incredible studio tours, events, panelist discussions and all things creative. This year, Gap Inc. partnered with SF Design Week to host a panel discussion (hosted by some inspirational leaders from across our family of brands) at our SF HQ. We opened our doors to the public and talked about everything from product design to customer feedback to sustainability. Oh, and did we mention it was moderated by Elizabeth Holmes, whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Vogue International, just to name a few.
 
A lot of amazing conversation came out of the panel, including advice for creatives just getting started, what the future of retail looks like, and how to make it in a world where customers’ shopping habits are changing. Here are the four takeaways you can’t miss:  
 
  1. Brand values and brand identity are kingThe anchor of any good brand is a clear, strong identity supported by real, tangible, fundamentally good core values. This is something we live and breathe here at Gap Inc. As an organization, our values are part of our DNA, no matter what brand you sit in (championing equality, giving back to our people and our planet, doing more than selling clothes, to name a few). Jamie Gersch, Chief Marketing Officer at Old Navy, said it best, “Everything we do, whether you're designing a product, making a product in a factory, marketing on social media, or serving a customer in store, the pieces all go through the filter of our mission. I think that's what anchors all of our brands: Really knowing who you serve, how you differentiate in the market, and what your proposition is to your customer.”
  2. The world of fashion revolves around the you (a.k.a. the customer).You can’t define a brand without listening to the customer first. Our Senior Director of Consumer Insights, Katie Lechner, shared how we use customer feedback to create products they love. “To get to know our customer, we go on the subway with them, we talk to them in their homes, look at their closets” she said, “and by watching them lead their lives in that way, we start to understand things that are fundamentally important to them, like the way that fit and comfort today really differs from where it was even 10 years ago, and that both are equally important to today’s customer.” These insights are constantly informing our design and product creation.
  3. Clothes these days have a lot of hats to wear, pun intended. We ask a lot from our clothes today. Our wardrobe needs to be comfortable, stylish, and functional; that’s a tall order for designers to bring to life. Omar Nobil, Head of Women’s Design for Banana Republic, wants to address the friction that women sometimes experience when shopping, “Quality and functionality are often overlooked in women's apparel. For Banana Republic, it's really important that we have this unpatronizing method to how we approach women's design. We are very dedicated to providing quality, function, timeless effortless style to women.” The designers at Banana Republic do not believe function and style are mutually exclusive. They believe that clothes need to match the way we live our lives, which is often running from the office to dinner or picking up the kids from daycare. Clothes need to do more than just check one box, they need to keep up with our busy lives and make us feel confident all at the same time.
  4. Companies can (and should) also do good in the world. This is where those brand values shine through, regardless of your brand, regardless of what sector you’re in. One of the main reasons customers develop loyalty to a brand over time is because they value those who give back and recognize that not every company chooses to do so. There are so many companies out there creating amazing products and managing to do what’s right. Athleta is definitely one of them. Michele Sizemore, Senior Vice President of Product Operations at Athleta, talked about sustainable practices and why they’re totally worth it. “We are a brand that believes that a company for profit can also do good in the world, and that we have a responsibility and accountability to do that – which is why sustainability is the core of what we do. It's more expensive to use a recycled fiber from post industrial waste, and it brings its own challenges beyond expense. But it pays off tremendously in the end, because you’ve made something that gives back to the planet, made something that will last, and made something that your customer will feel good about wearing – inside and out – every time she puts it on. It’s just the right things to do.”
Does all of this sound right up your alley? Lucky for you, we’ve got a ton of creative job roles open. Apply for our design roles here, and follow us on LinkedIn to see job opportunities and get a feel for what it is like to work with us.
 

Categories

Related Articles