Old Navy: Forged by the Sea

Imagine a place where you can find all of your wardrobe “must-have’s” at prices you can’t believe.

It started with GAP
In the early 1990s, Dayton-Hudson Corporation (the parent company of  Target, Mervyn’s, Dayton’s, Hudson’s and Marshall Field’s) established a less expensive version of their competitor, GAP, and called it Everyday Hero. In 1993, Millard Drexler, then-CEO of GAP, answered the challenge by opening GAP Warehouse. In 1994 GAP Warehouse was renamed to Old Navy Clothing Co.

Old Navy’s 1,054 US Store Locations

In 1994, the first three Old Navy locations opened in the northern California towns of Colma, San Leandro and Pittsburg. The new stores were larger than GAP Warehouse stores, at 15,000 square feet to compared to GAP’s 10,000 square feet. Later that year, another 42 Old Navy stores opened, and most of the 45 Gap Warehouse stores were renamed Old Navy.

Modeled after grocery stores, Old Navy locations had long aisles and shopping carts. Cement floors and metal shelving gave the stores an industrial warehouse feel.

In 1997, Old Navy became the first retailer to pass $1 billion in its first four years in business. Another 500 stores were opened by the year 2000.

In 2001 Old Navy expanded into Canada
with 12 stores in Ontario.

In 2011, Old Navy rebranded to create a more family-oriented environment. The new look featured better lighting, bright colors and more efficient store layouts.

In 2012, Old Navy hired H&M executive Stefan Larson to run its Old Navy division. Larsson knew what the company needed to increase sales and profits. He hired designers away from Coach, Nike, Reebok and North Face to design Old Navy clothing. He had the magic touch, and by 2015, Old Navy’s yearly sales reached $6 billion. Larsson left the company that year to join Ralph Lauren and was replaced by current President and CEO, Sonia Syngal.

In 2017, Old Navy opened two new flagship stores, one of which is in Times Square. Catering to New York City shoppers, the store has extended hours and more retail space than other Old Navy locations.

In February 2019, Gap Inc., announced that Old Navy and Gap Inc. would split up into two separate companies.

How did Old Navy get its name?
Old Navy‘s first CEO, Millard Drexler, happened upon a bar called Old Navy while on a walk through Paris, France. He decided that would be a good name for his stores.

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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