"What ever happened to Banana Republic?" That was the question that popped up this past week as I sat down for coffee with an old friend and former brand enthusiast. "I'm actually writing a story about them" I responded. "The brand may finally be getting its mojo back."
Banana Republic was always the destination for clean, elegant, classic yet on trend pieces for me and so many. There aren't very many brands that can grow and evolve with your style and that's what made Banana special. I remember purchasing two gorgeous silk dresses for my college graduation at an east coast location in 2005. The dresses made such an impact that my best friend cried when I tried them on.
Transitioning from a college grad to a working lady was made easy with blouses dyed in the most gorgeous and rich pinks, greens and reds, sheath dresses that fit like a glove and an array of perfectly cut trousers. I spent so much money at Banana that I became Luxe Card carrying super shopper and oh the discounts and perks that came with that. It was most definitely the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
And then 2009 happened. Yes, the economy was tanking but so were the selections and offerings at one of my favorite stores. Something changed in the style as well. Frankly put, the designs went from extraordinary to ordinary. There was a long drought with sprinkles of possibility (The Mad Men Collection for example) but alas, not much changed over the years.
This past week however, a rainbow appeared in the form of a boiled wool moto jacket in the coolest heather gray. Rushing into the store at The Grove in Los Angeles, I realized from the latest collection being displayed that a new era had arrived and the re-birth was being heralded by newly minted Creative Director, Marissa Webb.
Webb is shaking things up and already has one win under her belt --a successful brand collaboration with designer Roland Mouret. The capsule collection designed by the master of refined elegance and femininity launched this past week and is already sold out at most stores. I couldn't even get my hands on any of my coveted pieces on the first day it launched. This is definitely a great sign for the brand.
Clean, streamlined yet interestingly layered looks with an unexpected twist. This is the new BR. In the words of Ms. Webb, "It's a new day at Banana Republic, with an all new style rich in contrasts --smooth with textured, modern with classic, short with long. This is our take on 'hi-lo' styling and it's the shape of things to come.
Quite frankly, I can't wait to get this relationship back on track.