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The Debrief | Inside Banana Republic’s Bid to Regain Relevance

BoF’s retail correspondent Cathaleen Chen joins The Debrief to discuss how the mall brand plotted a turnaround that’s starting to pay off.
Inside Banana Republic's Bid to Regain Relevance

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Background:

Gap Inc. has had a hard year, accented last week by a dramatic Ye break-up following an anticlimactic retail roll-out of Yeezy Gap, which it staked its comeback on a year ago. Old Navy sales sank, and its once fast-growing sportswear label Athleta has seen sales level. But there’s been one glimmer of hope in the midst of it all: Banana Republic. The long-struggling mall brand’s sales were up 9 percent in the quarter ended July 30, helping to send Gap Inc. shares up 6 percent after what was an otherwise grim report. It seems the company is finally starting to see the payoff of the brand and product re-fashioning it started a year ago under chief executive Sandra Stangl and then-chief brand officer Ana Andjelic.

“For the first time in a long time, it’s exciting, it’s different — and the fact that it’s not for everybody serves an advantage for Banana, because it finally has a point of view,” said retail correspondent Cathaleen Chen.

Key Insights:

  • After getting lost in an amalgamation of indistinct mall brands, Banana Republic has started to redefine itself with a pointed aesthetic that doesn’t serve every consumer — reinventing its look and product offering. It launched a line “Imagined Worlds” that nods to its heritage as a travel and safari line.
  • Half of Banana Republic’s sales come from its off-price segment.
  • Best known for time spent at Restoration Hardware, Stangl has focused on improving in store experience and leaning more into the idea of BR as a lifestyle brand.
  • Overall, the Banana Republic makeover could be a learning experience for Gap, which hasn’t yet mounted a brand turnaround as significant as this.

Additional Resources:

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