Gap can refer to many things, but the most prominent is an American clothing retailer based in San Francisco, California. Gap has over 3,000 stores worldwide, although more than 2,000 of those are located in the United States.
Gap was started in 1969 by Donald and Doris Fisher as a discount jean store on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco, it quickly grew. By 1974, Gap had 25 stores across the state of California and had opened it's first East Coast store in New Jersey. In 1974, the company began selling its own private-label merchandise. 1987 brought the opening of the first store outside the United States in London, UK. Gap launched its first online-only venture, Piperlime, in 2006 and followed up with the acquisition of athletic retailer, Athleta in 2008.
The chain continued to grow. Gap purchased Banana Republic in 1983, Old Navy in 1994 and acquired Forth & Towne in 2005. In 2011, the company announced that it would be closing 189 original United States Gap stores by 2013 due to lagging sales, but would be expanding its presence in the burgeoning Chinese market.
Gap was included in a 2003 lawsuit against 22 companies by workers in Saipan alleging sweatshop practices, unsafe working conditions, forced abortion policies and unpaid overtime. Although a 20 million dollar settlement was reached, Gap did not admit any liability in the case. In response, Gap has committed to a socially responsible business model that includes policies regarding human rights and employee treatment, environmental stewardship and community involvement.
Today, Gap is continuing to grow into new markets and expanding its retail holdings. Although co-founder Donald Fisher passed away in 2009, Doris Fisher continues to serve on the Gap Board of Directors along with her two sons, William and Robert Fisher.
GAP can also be an acronym for the Government Accountability Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting government and corporate whistle blowers.