Pulling Back the Curtain: How Gap Home Came to Life

by Gap


June 24, 2021

Meet the team

Our business was born out of a desire to solve a problem, and we continue to embrace that spirit of innovation today. Gap Home is a testament to that spirit. This collection, now available exclusively on Walmart.com, is a great example of what’s possible not only when we apply our values to our work, but also when we flex our superpowers—those that are helping us grow purpose-led, billion-dollar brands. In the spirit of Try Fast, Learn Fast, Think Big (one of Gap Inc.’s eight Words to Live By), we sat down with two of our licensing pros—Kristine Pizzelanti, head of marketing, store experience and licensing for Franchise, Strategic Alliances and Licensing, and Anouar Alami, senior director, product licensing— who helped bring this idea to life in a record six months by driving toward solutions with speed, conviction and a blue-sky mentality.

A pile of throw pillows in shades of blue, beige, and grey scattered on a beige rug.

Your Gap Home questions answered

How long has the company had its sights set on a Gap Home collection, and why launch it now?

Kristine: We’ve wanted to get into “Home” for years—it’s a category that always felt ownable, and one that could add additional dimension for the Gap customer. The Covid-19 pandemic, though, has greatly accelerated the category, and we don’t see this growth slowing down. Because people were and still are home more—especially those working remotely—they’re eager to make it a space they love to spend time in. So, there really is no better time than now, and we’re excited to capitalize on the momentum we’re seeing by bringing what’s always been a great idea to life for our customers.

Walk us through the licensing process. What was IMG’s role?

Kristine: Our licensing agency, IMG, is a large part of the equation because they identify and help broker the deals between us and our licensees. They’re responsible for pitching opportunities, securing proposals from licensees and executing the contracts in partnership with our legal team. They also help facilitate product, sales and marketing material approvals in partnership with us.

Anouar: Once we’ve landed on the licensees we want to work with, we lead them through a thorough onboarding process to explain our brand point of view, filters, who our customers are, what we stand for, our non-negotiables, trend perspective and much more. Then, the most exciting part begins … the design process!

Different size bowls, cups, and other pieces from the Gap Home collection sit on a tabletop.

What are we able to achieve through licensing, and what’s the benefit of working with licensing partners?

Anouar: By licensing products, our outward reach grows immensely, and we’re able to expose more customers to our brand through new categories that we don’t currently develop. And one of the advantages of introducing a new category through a licensing deal is that you’re working with best-in-class partners who are experts in their spaces. They understand the trends … they’re in-tune to consumers’ needs … they’re thoroughly embedded in these product categories. “Home” isn’t core to our business at Gap but creating timeless American fashion is, so working with licensees who have the knowledge, relationships and capital necessary to bring it all together was essential to creating something spectacular.

Why Walmart?

Kristine: Partnering to Amplify is an integral part of our Gap Inc. Power Plan. It allows us to work with the best of the best in any given space and helps us reach new and existing customers in a capital-efficient way. Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, so we’re entering this new category with a proven partner—one that has significant digital reach and scale. This is a key strategic initiative for Walmart, and they have developed a robust integrated marketing strategy to support the program. Plus, when we’re ready to expand into more home categories, Walmart gives us the platform to bring the full expression of Gap Home to life, which will help us build credibility in the home space. And let me tell you what an AWESOME collaboration it’s been. We don’t see Walmart as a competitor here—we see two powerful, iconic American brands coming together to amplify each other and reach more customers.

Nine mugs lay on their sides decoratively upon a tabletop.

What touch points did you have along the way to ensure Gap Home aligns well with its Modern American Optimism point-of-view?

Anouar: Our licensing model is capital efficient, meaning we’re not distracting teams from their core competencies by bringing in extra layers of approval. So, when it comes to understanding our brand’s point of view—and applying that lens to new product assortments—I’m empowered to own those decisions with leadership approval. The good news is my blood runs blue. Having been with the brand for nearly 20 years in various product and merchandising roles, Gap is intrinsically in me. That said, I do gain a ton of insight by sitting in all quarterly creative meetings. These touch points are critical and really round out my understanding of the brand’s current design direction. So, for Gap Home, I was able to draw on this insight, as well as on my deep brand experience, to help us cross the finish line with an assortment that feels like Gap and aligns well with our point of view.

Design inspiration—what is it?

Anouar: This collection is positioned around timeless American style for modern living. We knew we wanted it to closely represent who we are, so we looked to our creative direction and seasonal tone to make sure that what we were designing felt synonymous with the brand aesthetic. Those iconic Gap colors and materials—shades of blue, white, khaki, as well as fun pop colors, denim and chambray—give it the classic Gap look, but we were also inspired by our summer 2021 collection. Pops of tie-dye and ombre add a dimension of fun. Gap Home is both timeless and youthful and was—perhaps most importantly—made with the planet in mind. Many items in the collection are made with organic cotton or recycled materials.

A bed is draped in different shades of blue bedding.

How does the Gap Home launch timeline compare to typical new category launches in our biz, and how did the team Try Fast, Learn Fast, Think Big throughout the process?

Kristine: The typical timeline for a launch of this nature is about 11-18 months or longer, depending on the category. We were a lean team up against one of the quickest deadlines this company has ever seen. But we knew how big this opportunity was, and we quickly operationalized and began collaborating with those we needed to. It was an all-hands-on-deck effort, and we made it happen!

Anouar: Try Fast, Learn Fast, Think Big was the only way to get this done. I went from working at home to going into the office every day to receive design samples. I was on the phone with licensees daily. We streamlined our approval process. Everyone who was a part of this journey wanted it to launch successfully, so they did what they needed to—and did it fast!—to make it work. We built a six-category assortment in six months. That doesn’t happen without living and breathing this Word to Live By.

Multiple Gap Inc. superpowers came to play through this launch—what are they?

Kristine: While I could put this launch and the work that went into it against each of our six Superpowers, the ones that stand out are (1) Brand Power—Gap is the first fashion retailer to partner with Walmart in the home space, which is a testament to the power of the Gap brand and what it stands for; (2) Product Love—we always wanted to ensure that the Gap Home collection was well-made, accessible and made with the planet in mind; and (3) Team & Values—Gap Home is a great example of what’s possible when we apply Gap Inc.’s core values to our work.

I’m particularly proud of how our Words to Live By came to life through this project. We took risks, defied convention and unleashed our potential (Create with Audacity). We committed to doing good for the planet by creating an assortment with sustainable properties (Do the Right Thing). We were problem solvers, not problem spotters (Try Fast. Learn Fast. Think Big.). We put the customer at the forefront of our ideas (Be Customer Curious). And we saw things through to the end and rallied all those around us to win (Own it. Do it. Done).

Bathroom towels in different patterns and shades hanging on wall hooks.

What’s next for Gap Home?

Kristine: So much! We met with the Walmart team last month, and we’re all very enthusiastic about the collaborative partnership and where it’s headed … so this is just the beginning. The collection will continue to evolve and build as we add new categories to the assortment and eventually expand into Walmart stores. We’ll continue translating our timeless American style for modern living to enable new customers to learn about and fall in love with our iconic brand. Now, head to Walmart.com to shop Gap’s first ever home collection!

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