This fall, Banana Republic debuted a New Look, featuring a new brand promise, elevated product and a refreshed store experience. We sat down with Head of Brand Marketing, Meena Anvary; Head of Visual Merchandising, Kristi Argo; Head of Men’s Merchandising, Ceri Williams; and Head of Women’s Merchandising, Lauren Kazemi, to learn more about the direction Banana Republic is heading, the inspiration behind the Fall 2021 collection, and of course, their favorite products.
Q: What’s different about Banana Republic’s new brand positioning?
Meena: Our new brand positioning and promise builds on the authenticity of our brand and reinvents it for today in the form of democratic, approachable, and inclusive luxury. We took a 360 approach to reintroduce BR to our customers through product, experience, and brand storytelling. We’re elevating all customer touchpoints, from immersive product stories seen in-store and on digital platforms, to the amazing quality of our product and luxe fabrics. The way we’ve evolved is more indicative of how people are dressing today and living their lives in a multi-dimensional way. We’re nodding to our heritage in a modern, iconic and ownable way. It’s all about the mashup of different genres and ways to dress to make it your own.
Q: How has the new brand positioning come to life in stores?
Kristi: We have re-imagined the in-store shopping experience with the spirit of adventure and exploration. We have created an experience that engages all their senses in our interiors, what they see, touch, hear, smell and taste. The power of storytelling is more relevant now than ever before. We are engaging our customer about the world of travel and adventure, while keeping craftsmanship and timeless design at the core of everything we do. What we bring into our store interiors has purpose and authenticity. The clay beaded chandeliers are handmade by a group of women in South Africa. The rugs are handmade in the Atlas Mountains by the Berber people in the same sustainable way they were crafted hundreds of years ago. The black-and-white photography, which is exclusive to BR, is shot by our lead photographer that has been bringing awareness to preserve the land in South Africa, where these animals live. These are just a few examples of the work we are doing to bring the brand vision to life in our stores.
Q: Shifting to product—what was the inspiration behind the Fall 2021 collection?
Ceri: It came from the notion of taking a look in your closet and redesigning the essentials to be timeless classics that are the best they can be: the softest fabrics, refined details, brand-defining proportions and perfect fit. We also looked to our heritage to inspire and ground us, and then we layered on fashion-relevant pieces.
Lauren: Design also went back to the inception of the brand design, which was taking military-inspired menswear pieces and fitting them with exaggerated proportions on a female. They used this ethos and interpreted it through a modern lens with all our new product.
Q: What does it mean for a product to be ‘elevated’?
Ceri: It means that everything to do with the product was treated with care, attention and love. From the fabric, to the fit, to the logo, to how it is marketed, shows up visually in stores and on-site, and how the sales associates speak to it.
Q: Which items do you especially love from this collection?
Ceri: The Women’s long silk shirt dress and the Men’s cashmere hoodie!
Lauren: Many things, but my go-tos have been the men’s cashmere crewneck in this beautiful camel color, the men’s flannel in this cool pattern, this modern gold bangle and the women’s ribbed turtleneck.