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In good company: Get to know Banana Republic’s partners in style and business

Design, PeopleGap Inc. blogsComment

Banana Republic's elevated, contemporary classics are a staple for any wardrobe. But the brand counts a handful of other enduring labels among its friends — so much so, they are styled alongside pieces of BR's own collection.

The brand is currently featuring a number of third party labels, including jewelry from Giles & Brother and Elizabeth Cole; an array of beautiful hats by Eugenia Kim; and handbags by Los Angeles-based leather-goods purveyor, August.

But how does the team at Banana Republic choose the company it keeps? Go behind the scenes with Anouar Alami, BR's Sr. Director of Product Management, and Merchandising Manager Michelle Malone to learn how these offerings complement BR like a wine pairing to a dinner.

Pictured above: Michelle and third-party product available at BR.

A lot of specialty retailers are offering third-party collaborations in their stores and websites. Can you share the rationale for why and how BR partnered with these brands?

Anouar: First, it's important to understand how customers shop today so we can engage them, ensuring these brands complement our offering in a way that is unique to BR. Today, consumers shop by lifestyle, and they mix and match their brands.

They also like to be guided toward understanding how items work together. We think our curated assortment helps with that as they look for the right items to complement the look they are shopping for at BR.

Can you elaborate on the advantages and how these partnerships complement our BR product offering?

Michelle: Integrating third-party brands into our overall assortment allows us to expand the range of our total offering to the customer through our curated point of view. For example, Elizabeth Cole is an incredible jewelry brand that features handmade, vintage-inspired designs. When we announced the launch of Banana Republic's online third-party boutique, [Elizabeth Cole] updated its home page to showcase Banana Republic. In addition, they often re-gram our Instagram posts. This creates exposure for both brands to new customers.

In today's retail landscape, you must be innovative and think differently about the way you reach new customers — this is a great example of that. Could you provide insight into the filters for third parties, what makes a good partner for BR and why?

Anouar: We're keen on celebrating the art of design, and all of these brands are incredible at design. They also have characteristics that intersect with our brand — quality, details that matter, innovation with textiles and materials. You can see and feel the beauty and emotion of these product offerings in their unique craftsmanship.

Michelle: It's also important that each brand we select complements our aesthetic and is not repetitive of what we offer in our own line. Furthermore, we aim to grow and develop these relationships over time, so we hand-select brands we believe have longevity.

Above, left, Anouar collaborates with a colleague.

Are third-party partnerships something BR will continue to offer going forward, or is this a short-term experiment?

Anouar: We're very bullish on this offering and it's something that we plan to grow and develop over time with the right partners. We do plan to expand the offering, but are being planful and strategic about building this new business so that it is successful and especially curated for our brand.

For example, currently we have a more robust offer on the women's side of the business, but that will change once we hit September and introduce additional brands and product geared toward men. Like the brands we currently have, those feature incredible design, quality and functionality.

Does the availability of third-party product differ from store to store or online? And, how does this play into the vintage designer offering?

Michelle: The third-party assortment is available both online and in stores. However, it does vary slightly between the two channels, as there is a slightly more robust offering in store. Our four flagship stores in San Francisco, Chicago, Rockefeller Center and Flatiron in New York, . have the complete offering of third-party product and styles.

Our Luxe Vintage designer collection, a curated selection of vintage bags and jewelry for both men and women, is only available in select, hand-picked locations: San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Aventura, Fla.

Anouar: Our vintage designer collection is unique. It's very exclusive in our direct competitive space, and we've developed a close relationship with What Goes Around Comes Around to source the product. We work closely with them on a limited-edition selection of the best previously-owned product from top-end labels for both men's and women's non-apparel goods. Each piece is carefully curated and there are special and limited distribution stories behind every item.

We look forward to what's to come, and be sure to keep an eye out for exciting and new offerings!