This story was originally published in the Glossy+ Fashion Briefing.
On Wednesday, Banana Republic rolled out a gender-inclusive category dubbed BR Athletics. It’s the retailer’s second category launch in three weeks, following its debut of BR Baby.
BR Athletics’ name is somewhat misleading. Rather than leggings and sports bras, which “mall brands” are increasingly adding to their inventory, BR Athletics is centered on preppy pieces with influences from streetwear and classic country club attire. Monograms and varsity patches decorate styles like cricket sweaters and varsity cardigans. Together, the pieces call to mind Ralph Lauren, but also Brooklyn Circus. Brooks Brothers, but Rowing Blazers and Aime Leon Dore, too.
Sandra Stangl, president and CEO of Banana Republic, shared the strategy behind the new line.
Why is this collection a fit for Banana Republic and your customer?
“We continue to spend a lot of time connecting with the desires of our customers, understanding what they love about the brand. And we’re seeking out exciting new avenues that will establish [us] as a premier lifestyle brand that’s inclusive and approachable, while at the same time remaining true to a certain spirit of irreverence and daring. BR Athletics is a realization of this approach.”
What’s behind the recent category additions, including baby?
“Both BR Baby and BR Athletics seek to mix the mainstream with the unexpected and deliver elevated, thoroughly modern lifestyle collections. We approached both lines by examining what made Banana Republic successful in the first place — taking the things that people already know and have nostalgia for, and framing them in new ways that feel fresh.”
For BR Baby, we wanted to evoke a whimsical and adventurous spirit, with pieces featuring playful animal prints, fantastical maps and illustrated palm trees. [The line] represents a clear vision of the brand today, committed to designs that are inclusive, crafted with sustainability in mind and made to last.”
How will you market the BR Athletics collection?
“In-store will be an immersive shop-in-shop experience; customers will step into a green ‘clubhouse room,’ immersing themselves within the look and feel of the collection. Digitally, [via desktop], mobile and app, [there is] a dedicated shop with large-scale imagery. And we have some exciting custom content development coming soon. The campaign images were shot by renowned photographer Micaiah Carter, who’s worked with luxury brands and publications including Vogue and Vanity Fair.”
How is Banana Republic responding to the evolution of workwear?
“It comes down to understanding the desire to let go of conventions and embrace a level of play and imagination, as the concept of ‘work’ continues to evolve. It’s a dynamic – a tension [of] the tailored with the casual, the suit pant and the denim jacket, a relaxed silhouette like a jogger paired with a heel. This is the new way to dress: always put together, but not always so classic and serious.”