Sonia Syngal is trying to build The Gap into a bolder brand

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Venture capital reaches a milestone, we check in with Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal, and Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. Have a thoughtful Tuesday.

– Building a bolder brand.  Sonia Syngal took over as CEO of Gap Inc. in March, right as the COVID-19 crisis caused mass lockdowns in the U.S. It was a tough task for any CEO, let alone one new to the top job.

But if Gap’s share price is any indication, Syngal has met the moment; it’s tripled since the spring. That’s due in part to Syngal facilitating bold decisions at The Gap, the company’s storied flagship brand that has under-performed siblings Old Navy and Athleta in recent years. (The parent company also owns Banana Republic.) The Gap brand launched a new teen line this spring, it struck a collaboration deal with with Kanye West’s Yeezy brand in June, and its parent last week announced the closure of hundreds of Gap and Banana Republic stores in North America by 2023.

A Wall Street Journal story published yesterday morning recapped Syngal’s CEO tenure thus far, and Syngal spoke to Fortune‘s Phil Wahba at the Fortune Global Forum yesterday afternoon.

“The Gap brand is a lot bigger than the way we were monetizing the brand,” she said, pointing to some of the recent moves. She said clarity of vision, relevance, and “releasing trapped energy” would be among the company’s priorities in coming years. A corporate value that she calls “inclusivity by design” is also high on her list. So far, the principle is behind company initiatives that pay workers to staff election polls stations and donate apparel to people in need.

Also yesterday, Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, which seemed all but inevitable soon after death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, became official. She clinched her seat with a Senate vote that was along party lines, except for Sen. Susan Collins (R–Maine), who, facing a tough reelection bid, voted with Democrats against the appointment. Barrett is now the country’s fifth female justice.

Republicans have claimed that Barrett is not as hardline conservative, not as big a threat to women’s reproductive rights as her judicial and personal history suggests. But the sprint to confirm her—a process that shattered norms and betrayed principles Republicans said they held dear—undercuts the argument. Barrett, for her part, will start putting speculation about her judicial tendencies to rest rather quickly; she could weigh in on election disputes that are pending before the Supreme Court in coming days and could consider her first abortion case as a justice by the end of this week.

Claire Zillman
[email protected]

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

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