- After years of underperformance at Gap, Banana Republic announced on Tuesday that it is revamping its brand identity to focus on "democratic, approachable and inclusive luxury." Launching on Sept. 28, the company's new positioning is reflected through a campaign dubbed Imagined Worlds, which "reflects Banana Republic as it was originally conceived—a fictitious territory—a far-away and unknown place that is part of explorers' folklore and adventurers' lore."
- As part of the effort, the company is creating new product stories for its physical stores and digital channels, and refreshing its product designs and fabrics, according to a company press release. The brand's Fall 2021 New Look campaign, which debuts Sept. 7, features work and casual attire with an emphasis on leather and suede, along with Italian Merino wool, silk, shearling and cashmere.
- Banana Republic is modernizing its physical stores across the U.S. to align with its new identity through hospitality, styling services, revamped store design and "elevated merchandising." It also aims to create a more immersive experience across its digital channels using inspirational imagery, videos and music.
Banana Republic is going back to its roots with this brand refresh. Early this year, Banana Republic hired Ana Andjelic to serve as its chief brand officer, and now Andjelic is working to redefine the brand's positioning around some of the elements it originally became well-known for. The New Look collection launching this fall seeks to blend nostalgia and contemporary aesthetics, Andjelic said in a statement.
"Call it post-genre fashion. Or call it post-fashion altogether: The New Look is less about fashion and more about living. To get there, we mixed the mythical American look, San Francisco imagination, and the late 1990s," Andjelic said in a statement. "Keywords are utilitarian chic and modern casualwear. Safari meets tuxedo, formalwear meets casualwear, menswear meets womenswear, vintage meets tailoring, functionality meets imagination.”
Banana Republic has struggled at Gap over the years, generally overshadowed by Athleta and Old Navy. Compared to 2019, Banana Republic and Gap's sales dropped by 15% and 10% in Q2, while Athleta and Old Navy's sales increased by 35% and 21%, respectively. It didn't help that the COVID-19 pandemic curbed demand for some of Banana Republic's core offerings as consumers pivoted to comfortable clothing.
Both Imagined Worlds and The New Look bring Banana Republic back to its travel and safari roots, notably more casual than its recent offerings — and are meant to redefine how the brand thinks about fashion. "Like Shangri-La, Middle Earth, Westeros, or Wakanda, Banana Republic is an imagined world," the company said in its release. "This invented, dreamlike brand world is a springboard to redefine fashion, design, activism, sustainability, and creativity."