Tribute: Gap founder dies age 81

28 September 2009

Donald Fisher

The fashion world was saddened by the death of a true fashion legend yesterday. As Gap celebrates 40 years in the business, its founder Donald Fisher died of cancer at his home in California.

The 81-year-old, who launched Gap Inc. in 1969, was responsible for bringing all-American casual chic to our wardrobes, with simple but classic basics reminiscent of spending a lazy summer in the Hamptons.

Changing his role over the years from Gap CEO to Chairman and finally Company Director, Donald remained a key figure at the heart of the business. He was also a supporter of several other projects including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (which are responsible for a range of educational and social development programmes for young Americans).

"My father was an inspiration to many people both in his dedication to his business and through his enthusiasm and commitment to philanthropic efforts,” says Fisher’s son Bob, who is also on Gap’s board of directors.

"On behalf of our family, we want to thank everyone who has offered their love and support. We are comforted in the knowledge that my father's legacy will live on in the spirit and passion of the millions of people who have worked over the past 40 years for the company he founded."

Donald opened the first Gap outlet in with his wife Doris in 1969 after struggling to find a pair of well-fitting jeans. Buying up a small jeans and records store, they named it Gap as a nod to the generation gap. The store attracted college students looking for quality denim with a perfect jeans fit. Forty years on, Gap still offers a full range of clean and crisp casual wear and is an iconic worldwide brand with a reported income of $228 million this year (August). The first store opened outside the US in London in 1987 (yay!).

As famous for their ads as their clothes, Gap have launched some classic campaigns over four decades, including the Gap Khaki dancers, the Madonna and Missy Elliot jeans campaign, a shoot by photography legend Annie Leibovitz, and ads featuring celebrities such as Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, and SJP. Check out our gallery of iconic Gap adverts.


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