Gap Inc. Co-Founder, Don Fisher, Dies at 81

Don Fisher, co-founder of Gap Inc., died at his home in San Francisco Sunday morning, September 27 2009, after a long battle with cancer. His wife, and fellow co-founder, Doris Fisher and family were at his side.

Fisher is widely accredited as the inventor of specialty retail. However, despite being the driving force behind several global brands and retail chains, Fisher remained committed to and active in his philanthropic work and civil leadership.

“Today we lost a friend, a mentor and a great visionary,” said Glenn Murphy, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Gap Inc.  “Don and Doris took a simple idea and turned it into a brand recognized as a cultural icon throughout the world and changed the face of retail forever.  We will miss him deeply, and our thoughts and prayers are with Doris and the entire Fisher family during this time.”

The Fishers opened the first Gap retail store some 40 years ago, on August 21 1969, in San Francisco. Named for “the generation gap”, the original gap store stocked Levi’s pants, tapes and records, appealing to the 12 to 25 year old customer. Inspired by his frustrating experience finding and exchanging a pair of ill-fitting Levi’s jeans, Fisher devoted the entire store to pants, focusing on display, classification, ease-of-find, and a broad size range.

The Gap label was launched in 1972.

Today, Gap Inc. is worth $15 billion, employs 134,000 around the world, and has over 3,100 retail locations in several countries. Gap Inc. offers clothing, accessories, and personal care products for men, women, children and babies through its several brands—The Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, and Athleta brands.

Fisher is survived by wife, Doris, their three sons, and 10 grandchildren, as well as two brothers and their wives.

Photo credit: Top – Don Fisher. Body – Don Fisher and wife, Doris. Courtesy of Gap Inc.