NEW YORK — Gap chief executive officer Paul Pressler has recruited another former Disney colleague, Toby Lenk, to head Gap’s online businesses as president of Gap Inc. Direct.
Lenk was ceo and founder of eToys, an Internet-based retailer that grew to around $200 million in sales, but started to flounder and was sold to KB Toys in May 2001. Prior to that, Lenk was vice president of corporate strategic planning for The Walt Disney Co. Most recently, he has been pursuing venture-capital opportunities.
Two other recent Gap recruits, chief financial officer Byron Pollitt and executive vice president of human resources Eva Sage-Gavin, also held senior posts at Disney during their careers, although Gap said that Sage-Gavin didn’t actually work with Pressler.
While periodically adding some new executives since becoming ceo in September 2002, Pressler is not expected to totally overhaul the ranks. It’s more a case of filling vacancies or additions to support the team. Just this past Wednesday, Pressler named Jack Calhoun as executive vice president of marketing for Banana Republic, filling another vacancy.
According to Hal Reiter, ceo of Herbert Mines Associates, an executive search firm that has worked for Gap: "Paul is bringing on some people he knows very well and feels he can trust. We see this happening all the time in retail — new ceo’s bringing in former associates. But at the Gap, I don’t expect to see many more changes at the senior level."
Lenk will oversee the online businesses for Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy divisions, as well as the company's customer call center and online distribution operations located near Columbus, Ohio, and report to Pressler. He will also be a member of the executive leadership team.
Lenk succeeds Michael Tucci, who recently joined Coach as president of its North American retail division. At Gap, Tucci held the title of executive vice president.
"Toby's intimate knowledge of online retailing will be a tremendous asset as we leverage our growing online businesses to serve our customers and provide a seamless and integrated shopping experience with our stores," Pressler said in a statement. "His entrepreneurial style and strong operational and strategic planning experience will enable us to continue driving innovation and leadership in online apparel retailing."The $14.5 billion Gap launched its online operations in 1997. They have been among the most successful on the Internet, primarily because the Web sites are known for their relatively advanced technology and support of stores. The company does not disclose online sales volumes, but a spokeswoman said that the online operations are profitable.
In February, Old Navy received 2,240,000 hits, and Gap, 2,238,000 hits, both ahead of other popular specialty Web sites such as Nike, Frederick’s of Hollywood, American Eagle Outfitters and L.L. Bean, but behind Limited Brands and Footlocker, according to comScore Networks, an online market research firm.
Gap utilizes its Web sites as testing grounds for new products that could eventually be sold in the stores, although generally the online and store experiences for each brand under the Gap umbrella are closely integrated. For example, maternity wear was first sold online, but is now also sold at Old Navy and Gap stores. However, petites are currently sold at Banana Republic online, but could one day be sold at Banana Republic stores, too.
Todd Slater, a retail analyst with Lazard Frères, said Gap’s Internet business, like most brick-and-mortar retailers, is relatively a small piece of the pie, representing the size of a large store in terms of revenues. Still, he said the Web site is an important point of communication with customers, helping illustrate Gap’s positioning, and helping people find stores.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast