Courting the Milennials: Banana Republic Ramps it Up

June 03 2014

with guest blogger Annie G.


Banana Republic is a brand that has long been seen as Gap's older, more mature counterpart (or at least since its induction to the Gap Inc. family in 1983). The company has transitioned from its original positioning, exchanging the original safari themed items and decor for a more polished look. Their aesthetic has been targeted towards Ben and Anna (say it out loud and you'll get it), their fictional, 30-40 year old, well-off, style conscious customer. Simon Kneen, Creative Director since 2009, successfully designed for this audience for many years. However, in recent seasons, Kneen has been criticized for dulling the brand down and perhaps being out of touch with current trends.


photo by Billy Farrell Agency

Enter Kneen’s replacement, Marissa Webb, Banana's new Creative Director. Not only is Webb young and stylish, but she's more plugged in. She's conscious of the vital role social media plays, and is an avid Instagram user. Webb’s personal Spring 2014 line displayed a fresh vision that will help push Banana's image forward, and her point-of-view will create a shift in Banana’s design sensibilities, audience, and marketing that will help them to reach hip, twenty-something millennials and their buying power. While Ben and Anna remain a core part of Banana Republic's demographic, Benji and Annalise are the new kids in town. They may still have brunch dates like their parents, but they're young professionals with blogs to write and tweets to send, and they want to look cute while they’re gramming.

While Webb isn't expected to debut a collection until next summer, her ascension has already created a notable shift in the brand's product. Additionally, the late L'Wren Scott designed a successful colourful and bold collection for the company. Her prints were a bit louder, the colors more saturated. The cuts were sleek and (dare we say) sexy. And all of a sudden, Banana engaged in some effective social media marketing. With the release of Scott’s line came a Twitter/Instagram selfie contest. Fitting room mirrors had decals that read #ThisIsGlam, and encouraged customers to take and post pictures in the collection. Last week, Banana Republic also launched another collaboration with Marimekko, the graphic and funky Finnish brand that has already staged a successful comeback.

While the brand will always be loyal to Ben & Anna, the duo who love neutrals, classic non-iron shirts, and perfectly fitted Sloan pants, the future may have a positive pop of colour for Banana Republic. Will this mass-market clothing brand successfully throw off its mumsy identity and evolve with the times and develop deeper and more vital market reach? We’ll be sipping on our Arnold Palmers and taking a wait-and-see.


photo by Banana Republic

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