In a campaign launched Wednesday for International Youth Day, Gap is centering on teen activists and makes its fall 2020 teen collections with a sustainability bend.
Youth activists like Earth Uprising founder Alexandria Villaseñor; Mari Copeny (commonly known as Little Miss Flint); One Million of Us founder Jerome Foster II; and the youngest #youthvgov plaintiff Levi Draheim are in the mix for the brand’s campaign.
The “Be the Future” campaign is part of a series that will also include a global virtual climate rally on Friday, in collaboration with Earth Uprising. Strategic partnerships thereafter will be centered on voting, with Gap teaming with nonpartisan organizations like When We All Vote and Rock the Vote.
Alongside the campaign, the brand will launch a collection of more sustainably made fall essentials.
The Gap Teen collection includes 40 sustainable styles “for a powerful generation that’s majorly plugged into the planet,” in the words of Michele Sizemore, senior vice president of global product development at Gap. Sizemore spearheads the company’s sustainability efforts and counts 20 years with the company, previously in global sourcing.
“The collection is made to help save water, reduce waste and make the world a better place,” added Sizemore. Items retail for under $100 and span sizes 8 to 16. At the very least, the revolution will be commoditized — spelled out on a long-sleeved pastel pink T-shirt, alongside an edit of soft lettuce-edged tops (a technique popularized by designer Stephen Burrows) and patchwork denim for teen girls.
The “Back to Learning” fall 2020 collection marks the first season Gap introduced teen boys and the second season of teen girls. The collection employs fabrics like certified recycled cotton and polyester, certified organic cotton, and Lenzing Ecovero.
In 2016, Gap pioneered a smart denim wash program called Washwell that conserves water in the garment wash phase of denim manufacturing; a program that “has saved millions of liters of water since its inception,” as Sizemore shared. Gap Teen Denim is part of Gap’s water-saving Washwell program, which is said to use 20 percent less water than conventional wash methods.
Separately, Gap has teamed with nonprofit organization National Geographic for its “first-ever” capsule collection for GapKids. With net assets of 1.4 billion reported in 2018, National Geographic spans global work across disciplines of science, exploration, education and conservation.
“This collaboration focuses on adventure, discovery, and the exploration of our planet, each piece made with recycled or organically grown materials,” according to Sizemore.
For Gap, the collections are “stitches” of a broader commitment to sustainability which includes a strategy of the aforementioned water equality program, Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.) program for gender balance and responsible material sourcing.
With a significant brunt of the coronavirus impact falling on the shoulders of brands’ upstream partners, it’s hard to argue sustainability progress if manufacturers and workers are left in the dust. In early July, the independent labor rights watchdog Workers Rights Consortium pulled Gap Inc. from its shame list after the company revised its approach and agreed to “pay in full for all orders previously subject to cancellation or discounts.”
The WRC affirmed “it is to Gap Inc.’s credit that it has made it a priority to honor its obligations to suppliers and workers related to past orders.”