Gap, Merchandising

Fit for GapFit: Meet Merchant, Catherine Russell

At Gap, we’re always obsessing over the latest compression tight or breathable tank, especially during this fitness-focused time of year.

While staying active is top of mind, we sat down with our lead merchant of GapFit to get an inside look into daily life as a merchant and the inspiration behind the newest product in store.

Meet Catherine Russell, Senior Merchant for Women’s Fit and Swim.

Fitness apparel has become a fast-growing area for the industry and our business – how do you keep the product fresh and exciting? Where does the team find inspiration?
Couldn’t agree more! Activewear is a really exciting place to be right now – I feel really lucky to be in the position I’m in. Part of my job at HQ is to keep our product feeling fresh by constantly researching the activewear market and always pulsing new styles into our stores. Whether it’s a new fabric or pocket detail, or simply a new way to do novelty details, we keep innovating. Our design partners and the merchandising team find inspiration through constantly talking about other brands/influencers/athletes we admire. Most importantly though, you will always see GapFit team members running out to catch a class. The best place for inspiration is on the street – seeing what people are actually wearing!

What makes your role different from a designer?
While a merchant’s best friend should be his or her designer (and planner!) our roles are very different. It is a merchant’s role to protect the customer’s voice and manage all in-season selling analysis. A designer’s role is all about bringing trends to the line and pushing merchants to test new things!

What makes GapFit unique from some of the major fitness brands?
GapFit is truly unique in the activewear market. We have highly competitive quality with some big names out there, but at really accessible price-points. We are able to offer an assortment to our customer for her everyday active lifestyle.

What are some of the latest advancements in GapFit?
GapFit launched a legging in Holiday 2017 – our Sculpt Revolution. It’s been incredible for us, but I’m really excited because we’re going to be updating the legging with a cell phone pocket as well as perforation in the waistband to allow better breathability. This will take the legging from low impact (yoga/barre) to medium impact (spinning/running). I’m actually heading to San Francisco shortly to meet with our sister brands for some exciting stuff!

What excites you about GapFit for 2018?
I’m most excited about new fabric innovation we’re working on which will be in stores by the summer of this year.

Fitness resolution for 2018? How do you stay active?
Incorporate more strength training into my regime. I currently spin for most of my workouts, so this year, I’m looking to get stronger.

Lastly, what’s your favorite GapFit product?
Definitely our Sculpt tights and Breathe tops – I promise you’ll fall in love with them!

Interested in joining the merchandising team at one of our brands? Check out our open merchandising jobs in San Francisco and New York.

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