It's been a year since Banana Republic made its New York Fashion Week debut for fall 2015, under then-creative director Marissa Webb. Since then, the retailer has experienced some changes, made evident at its Paris-inspired fall 2016 presentation at High Line stages over the weekend.
After infusing her cool, city-girl aesthetic into the retailer for two seasons, Webb exited her role as creative director in October, but stayed on as creative advisor. "It was really seamless," said Senior Vice President of Design Michael Anderson of putting together a collection without a creative director. "I think we're very clear on what our brand platform is. We're very clear on who we are. We're clear on our consumer. The one thing that was great about Marissa — she helped us get to the core of who we are as a brand." Plus, Webb is still actively involved with her creative advisor role. "I talk with her frequently [on the phone]," he added. "She helped style [the presentation.] She's like one of our best friends, too. So she's always there."
To gather inspiration for the collection, the 11-year Banana Republic veteran flew his entire design team over to Paris, where they immersed themselves in the local culture. The result: clean, versatile, classic separates that are uncomplicated to layer and combine into various outfits. The French-girl influence is evident in pieces like a V-neck Breton shirt tucked into high-waisted sailor-front midi-skirt, cropped wool trousers and a neutral cardigan knit set finished off with a navy scarf tied haphazardly around the neck. (And more off-the-shoulder coat styling.)
Banana Republic was one of the early brands to throw its hat into the consumer-facing ring for fall 2016, perhaps in hopes of boosting its outlook for this year after a tough 2015. Six of the collection's womenswear pieces, including a blush-hued Italian wool coat, an adorable collarless swallow-print blouse and an oversized silver fold-over clutch, were immediately shoppable online at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (the same time the presentation began). Anderson said the team chose those pieces for their simplicity, timelessness and versatility. "Our consumer loves that. It’s our sweet spot as well," he said.
But since it's Fashion Week, there is a bit of exclusivity involved. Each style is only available in a 100-piece run and labeled with a limited-edition hangtag. Plus, like that secret speakeasy located behind a fake phone booth in a hot dog shop, the shoppable styles aren't so easy to find on the Banana Republic homepage: You must scroll down to the "Favorite Looks From Our Customers #ItsBanana" Pinterest-y section for the top images, find the link exclusively shared on Banana Republic's Instagram or click here. If you miss out on the limited run now, the six styles will be rereleased along with the rest of the collection later this year, too.
In comparison with, say, Proenza Schouler or Tom Ford, Banana Republic's $98 boyfriend cardigan or $298 wrap coat are definitely easier to justify as impulsive "see now, buy now" purchases. "I honestly think it's the same conversation, to be honest, whether it's high or low or medium," Anderson said about the comparison. "I think we have a consumer the same way Tom Ford does. Obviously, it's different levels and a different point of view. We all share that same enthusiasm of wanting the product when we see it."
Click through the full Banana Republic fall 2016 lookbook and shop the NYFW fall pieces at Banana Republic.