For Janelle Monae, Fronting The Latest Gap Campaign Was A "Full Circle Moment"

Photo: Courtesy of Gap.
Sweater weather is indeed upon us, despite warmer temperatures than we're used to this time of year. That means Gap's latest holiday campaign where they revive their iconic rainbow sweater — which you may remember from your adolescent shopping days — comes just in time. Fronted by triple threat Janelle Monae, the campaign celebrates "togetherness," in an effort to "highlight all of the little things that unite us."
In the video, which will no doubt bring a smile to the faces of Gap fans across all generations, director Paul Hunter captures Monae and a slew of choirs singing an acoustic rendition of Freddie Scott's "You Got What I Need." And it's not just the melange of cool things that makes this campaign special; it's hard to ignore the thing that ties them all together. Between the classic crazy stripe sweater, the incredibly diverse casting, the song lyrics, and the fact that the holidays signify a moment of families coming together and setting their differences aside for a couple of dinners and holiday parties, we'd say they hit the nail on the head on how to do that whole "making a statement without overstating the obvious" type of thing.
Advertisement
And who could be better at transmitting the spirit and message of togetherness than Monae? That's why we couldn't resist chatting with her about the opportunity to front the campaign and what it felt like to go from wearing Gap clothes as a child to becoming a part of its inspiring legacy. While the spot is surely optimistic ahead of a season that will no doubt rival that of last year's post-election strife, it's also a reminder that style — yes, even crazy Gap stripes — knows no race, religion, culture, or orientation. Check out our interview with Monae below, followed by the campaign spot, which will hit your television screens (and get stuck in your head) on November 6th.
On Gap memories...
"Growing up, my family and I would always shop around the holidays. I grew up with working class parents and we didn't have a lot of money. Or, at least to go and buy super expensive things for myself and my sister. So, one of the things was always a treat for us was when we did get the opportunity to go shopping, one of the stores that was within my family's spending limit was the Gap.
My sister and I would get to pick out a sweater, some jeans — but usually, it was a sweater. I just remember doing that in middle school. Even when I got old enough to shop for myself and I was working at Blockbuster or FootLocker [in the mall], I'd always stop in Gap. It's pretty much everywhere, especially around the holiday season."
Advertisement
On diversity within the campaign...
"Part of the reason I wanted to be involved in this campaign is that Gap, to me, has always represented one of our greatest strengths as a country: when a diverse group of people comes together and builds something we can all be proud of, share in, and feel seen and a part of. I think with this campaign, there are so many of us from different walks of life coming together to create something magical, to represent what it means to unify and show what we can do when we just allow ourselves to talk to one another and meet each other.
In that open space, there's lots of art that comes from it. When you're thinking on a personal level, and communicating with other artists from around the world, you create something that can stay around for years to come and inspire the next generation. I just saw so many ways that this campaign can represent examples of unity, between us."
Summarize how it feels to front this campaign having been a fan in one word...
"Organic. It just feels like a part of my childhood to now; more full circle, I guess. Because whenever I'm partnering with anyone, and particularly with Gap, I love it when it's something that I've always been a part of and represented great memories in my life. It feels like a full-circle moment."
Advertisement