Gap Gains Mattel COO

Richard Dickson will certainly need to take other risks to infuse fresh air in old Gap. 

With so much noise surrounding the Barbie movie, the departure of Mattel president and COO Richard Dickson went almost unnoticed. Yet Dickson, who left on August 22, now helms another consumer brand in need of a major face-lift: Gap.

Dickson, 55, will need all the magic he used at Mattel to revive the clothing giant. Introducing clothes of different shapes and colors could help with rebranding, as will multiple collaborations. At least, that’s what the company’s board expects of its new CEO, who has been a board director for Gap since November 2022.

Bobby Martin, chair of the board, who assumed the interim CEO position for a year, points to Dickson’s experience “as a proven transformational brand builder and his belief in the power of inclusivity.” Martin and the other directors see Dickson as the lead architect of Mattel’s reinvention. The new CEO, who spent 20 years of his career at the toy company, is credited with launching the Mattel playbook behind Barbie’s transformation.

In 2014, when Dickson came back to Mattel after a four-year stint at Jones Apparel, the blonde doll was outdated, didn’t reflect the diversity of modern girls and its sales were lagging. Dickson, who has a Bachelor of Science in consumer economics from the University of Maryland, had to reengineer the concept and make audacious decisions.

Dickson will certainly need to take other risks to infuse fresh air in old Gap. The company, which regroups under the same umbrella of several brands (Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta), has lost its cultural relevance. What does each brand stand for? Who is the customer? The new CEO, who was a fashion executive at Bloomingdale’s and the Jones group in a previous life, seems eager to tackle these essential questions. “It’s the work ahead that excites me most,” he said, “the chance to evolve Gap for a new era.”