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Edward Enninful Talks White Tees, Individuality and Gap’s latest film

Company, DesignDylan DeSimone, Gap Inc. bloggerComment

Today world-renowned fashion legend Edward Enninful makes his directorial debut with “Bridging the Gap,” a film celebrating optimism, individuality and everything that is quintessentially Gap.

For the film, Gap and Enninful gathered a group of pop culture icons — Wiz Khalifa, Christie Brinkley, Jonathan Groff (to name a few) — to bring this vision to life. Everyone’s personal style is on display in the film as they rock out to the 1970s disco track, “Sunny” by Boney M.

As you’ll notice, everyone in the film dawns an array of white Gap tops, from ribbed tanks to vintage crew neck tees and even Henley’s. But why the white tees and song choice? Let the director clue you in.

Below Enninful shares the thinking behind his creative choices, his personal inspiration for this project and how they assembled such a cast. 

Why did you choose to make Gap’s basic white t-shirt the hero of this film?

The Gap basic white t-shirt for me is a blank canvas — eternally versatile. It can be worn by anyone regardless of age, gender, or personal style and can be tailored, dressed, accessorized, customized, and styled to reflect the individual wearing it. There is nothing more classic in the realm of casual than jeans and a white tee — a look that is inherently Americana and reminiscent of the American Dream — an optimistic dream of opportunity, individuality, freedom, and the embodiment of one living their truth.

To you, what makes the quintessential perfect white t-shirt?

There is no one perfect white tee. It is about the person wearing it and wearing it in a way where their own individuality shines through. My personal favorite is a classic white t-shirt worn in after a few washes.

The white t-shirt is a bit of a blank canvas — how do you make this American staple your own? 

One must simply wear a version of the white t-shirt that makes them feel great. This can come in many different shapes and sizes. Style is a form of expression. It is a statement we make non-verbally to the world around us. We may all start with a white shirt, and when we style it, accessorize it and add our own interpretation, it becomes unique like the individual wearing it. 

How did you style the white t-shirt for all the talent who appeared in the Gap film?

In my Gap film, the cast is global and made up of real individuals — each styled in their own way. They may all be wearing a white tee and denim, a common thread, but like the world and the humans that inhabit it, they are each unique in their own special way.

Everyone had their own variation of the white t-shirt on; Adwoa wore one that was cropped and oversized, Yara wore a classic fitted crew neck, Christy wore a boatneck t-shirt with 3/4 sleeves, Miles chose a ribbed tank to show his tattoos, Wiz chose a distressed relaxed crew neck, Priyanka loved the linen v-neck and Jasmine showed off her curves in a fitted tank, Alek wore a classic spaghetti strap, Jonathan wore a Henley with a pocket, Ellen wore a halter neck with a little neckerchief, Casil wore a classic crew neck, Priyanka chose a relaxed fit deep V-neck, Lineisy a crew neck tank, and Maria a fitted pocket tee.

What was it like working with the Gap team?

It was a wonderful experience working with the Gap team. It is very rare in this day and age that a company will allow a director or stylist full creative license to execute their vision in the way they allowed me to with my film. Gap is the exception. The entire Gap team was there to support and work alongside me and my team through the entire process. Gap has never been afraid to push the envelope. They continue to champion optimism and hope, and do so even when it defies the status quo.

Edward Enninful directs Gap commercial

What does the phrase “Bridging the Gap” mean to you?

To me, the phrase “Bridging the Gap” is based around the idea of one living their truth and doing so in the pursuit of a better world and brighter future for all — a vision I share with Gap. It is about acknowledging that our differences are what make us all special, and what makes America — the land of the free and the home of the brave — such a beautiful place. It is essential to recognize all of the different types of human beings that make up America — all very different and unique in their own individual way.

How did you choose “Sunny” as the song for this video?

When choosing the soundtrack for the video, I was looking for a song that embodied the idea of American optimism. That’s “Sunny.” I love the message of the song and the message that when we come together, we lift each other up, and forge a path of brighter days ahead. 

How did you go about choosing this diverse cast for this film?

In the casting, I chose individuals that inspire me and represent the world — from actors to activists, models to athletes to performers. A cast of varying genders, sexuality, religions, ages and backgrounds — to me this is the world we live in and the world we should see. They are all people who mean something to me; people who I work with and have wanted to work with. 

What does diversity mean to you?

You could say slowly but surely the world is changing, in a good way — equality in all forms is more and more part of the global conversation and people are celebrating diversity and individuality. People who have historically been marginalized are raising their voices. We’ve got to keep this conversation going. I truly believe in brighter days ahead.

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