History of Old Navy Retail

by Charity Tober - Updated September 26, 2017
Retailers Prepare For Slow Holiday Season In Tight Economy

Old Navy was founded in 1994 by Millard Drexler with the idea that fashion is for everyone, not just the rich. The company quickly broke a retail record by becoming the first retailer to reach over $1 billion in annual sales within the first four years of operation. The store's namesake comes from a bar in Paris of the same name that Drexler noticed on a visit. Old Navy prides itself on selling trendy yet affordable clothing essentials and accessories for every member of the family.

Growth and Expansion

The retailer originally opened with just three stores in California. Within two years, it had more than 130 stores across the United States. Store designs featured a sparse "industrial" look with concrete floors, exposed piping and chrome clothing racks. Old Navy began a series of quirky memorable advertising campaigns in 1997 that featured celebrities and often spoofed current popular entertainment. Early ad campaigns included "The Rugby Bunch" imitating The Brady Bunch television show and "Cargo Fever," a high-energy ad integrating cargo pants with the hit song "Boogie Fever." The retail giant faltered with low sales in 2000, but quickly rebounded in 2001 with international expansion, opening store locations in Canada. Further expansion efforts were completed with stores opening in Japan in 2013 and in mainland China in 2014. As of September 2014, the company has over 1,000 stores worldwide.

About the Author

Based in Lake Mary, Fla., Charity Tober writes mainly on finance, career, interior decorating, parenting and weddings. Tober has also self-published two children's picture books. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from the University of Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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