At the center of Gap’s ethos is a commitment to individuality, creativity and self-expression. And while the company points to one’s fashion sense as a surefire way to incorporate all three into one’s life, it has also intentionally sought ways to ensure that consumers can see their style and values reflected in the brand as well.


The Hip-Hop generation will likely recall first becoming aware of Gap’s desire to connect with the culture in 1997, with the iconic LL Cool J commercial. Today, the company continues to foster those cultural moments through unique brand collaborations, and by making sure that those tasked with spearheading these initiatives are people who truly get what these moments can mean when properly executed.


“Gap is one of the world’s most beloved brands. People know and love Gap because at our best, we do more than sell clothes. We create conversations,” says Brigid Andrews, who leads the company’s partnerships and collaborations. “By blending creativity with authenticity, Gap is a dynamic force, not just in the market but in shaping the narratives that resonate with today’s diverse and ever-evolving culture.”


While it was far from the first partnership forged within that spirit, nothing seems to have more truly expressed Gap’s dedication to authenticity like the DAP GAP collaboration. Launched in 2022, the partnership with fashion legend Dapper Dan has been infused with key touchpoints that create very “if you know you know” nods to those who have long recognized the Harlem-born pioneer’s unique contributions.


Each of the last four capsules have been made available first at Gap in Harlem, near the storefront where Dapper Dan created bespoke pieces for some of the most revered and most notorious New Yorkers in the 80s. The brand partnership also borrows from some of the aesthetic he created back in those days, while continuing to push Dap’s creative boundaries: in February, Gap announced a new Spring collection, which moves the DAP GAP collab into the world of cowboy-inspired and western wear-infused denim, inspired by the brand’s 1970s archive.

Dapper Dan & models in the collection 

The Gap partnership has not only helped magnify Dapper Dan’s incredible legacy to a worldwide audience, but also ignited and empowered creatives like Brigid Andrews in a new way.


Prior to joining Gap, Andrews had established herself as an accomplished omni-channel merchant with extensive success driving sales & profitability for major retail players including Urban Outfitters, Topshop and Marc Jacobs. When she brought her talents to the San Francisco-founded giant, it was originally as part of Gap’s Women’s Merchandising team. Then she fell in love with the wide realm of creative possibilities available through brand collaborations. In her current role, Andrews seeks to create partnerships that go beyond clothing to become platforms for self-expression.

Brigid Andrews

“Together, we curate collections that empower individuals to embrace their uniqueness, encouraging a bold, authentic voice in the way they present themselves to the world,” she says of her team, adding that their “go, seek and find” mindset and commitment to creativity allows them “to move quickly and intentionally to identify partnership opportunities that align with our culture, sharing similar ethos and values, and do what it takes to bring those partnerships to life.”


Andrews points to the DAP GAP collaboration as just one example of the company’s ability to keep its finger on the pulse of culture, pioneer conversations and create a space where cultural relevance is not just acknowledged but also cultivated. None of which is possible without a strong internal focus on diversity, which is further bolstered by the brand’s commitment to championing originality.


“Dapper Dan is a global icon, and through our collaboration we’ve contributed to Dap’s legacy while carving out our unique narrative at Gap,” Andrews explains. “Collaborating with Dap has inspired us on our own journey of brand reinvigoration. Together, we’ve not only reinforced the significance of self-expression and championing your own originality, but we’ve also ignited inspiration, contributing to the vibrant world of culture and beyond.”


Perhaps what has made the DAP GAP collaboration so successful is that it was launched in the midst of a concerted focus on reinvigorating the brand. Especially because that focus is built around the idea of re-committing to a distinct purpose and engaging in cultural conversations with ideas and products that inspire dialogue.


With Dapper Dan, Gap has achieved those two markers by allowing him to lead the creative direction of the collection and providing him a supporting cast of creatives within Gap who understand exactly how important this partnership is.


It’s important to note how big of a deal it is that the DAP GAP collection has intentionally been built around a legend that, for the longest, was a bit of Hip-Hop folklore that many outside of that community simply didn’t know. With each drop, each press release or interview, Gap has placed Dapper Dan in the forefront.  Consider the latest spring campaign as an example. It showcases a 22-piece western-inspired collection photographed by American creative photographer Joshua Kissi and features the faces of Harlem’s historic Graham Court apartment community.

Dapper Dan & Models in collection

“Gap Inc. and our brands have a huge influence, not just in shaping trends but in defining cultural narratives,” Andrews offers. “Our brands serve as a powerful platform that transcends fashion, impacting how we express ourselves and perceive the world. It’s not just about clothing; it’s about influencing the way we navigate and contribute to the world around us. Through design and messaging, we can inspire change, champion diversity, and more.”


“Working on the DAP GAP collaboration taught me the importance of looking within and staying connected to different corners of community – embracing diverse individuals, perspectives, and experiences,” Andrews adds. “Dap reminds us to be ingrained and tapped into the world around us.  He’s not just into fashion but also deeply connected to his community, stressing the importance of using your voice and platform to lift the experiences and people that have shaped who you are. This philosophy shines through in our collections together – each piece has a story rooted in history or something meaningful from Dap’s life.”


This particular partnership also aligns directly with Brigid Andrews’ personal goals both at the company and for her greater legacy in the world of fashion: to be a catalyst for positive change and inclusivity within the fashion industry.


“As a black woman in fashion, I aspire to contribute to a more diverse and representative landscape where everyone can see themselves reflected,” she explains. “I want to use my unique perspective to challenge stereotypes, tell authentic narratives, and inspire a shift towards greater cultural sensitivity.


I hope to not only influence Gap’s journey but also set a meaningful example for the broader fashion community.”


Andrews also hopes that by taking space within this industry and committing to projects that allow her own cultural values to shine, that she will serve as a beacon of representation to inspire other creative women to passionately dive into the world of fashion, no matter what lane allows them to bring forth their authentic selves and unique talents.