As creative director Marissa Webb's second season designing for Banana Republic and the brand's fashion week debut, the anticipation at the Fall 2015 show was running high. It was more of the expected, but in a good way; Webb's addition to the BR team added a much needed fashion-forward - but non-intimidating - edge to the popular high-street brand. With wearable, form-flattering clothing that can have even the least fashion-concious consumer looking put together, Banana has always been a reliable source when friends who fear designer labels (but admit they don't have a style clue) come to me for a wardrobe overhaul.
With straight-forward everyday wear for the masses that only sells in it's own stores (e.g. no presenting to buyers), Fashion Week has never been on Banana Republic's to-do list. But BR has run the same risk as similar brands of becoming stale, and that's when Webb - and now Fashion Week - entered the picture. It's rebranding without reinventing, offering the same esthetic it's loyal customers have come to rely on but positioning itself as a designer-led label with a unique vision for each season. It's kind of a Fashion for Dummies philosophy; the typical customer may not follow the latest trends, but they can trust the looks will be on point since the company is open to critique by those in-the-know.
Beyond just being a good PR play, the result can definitely be seen in the collection. Webb paired oversized cable-knit sweats with slim jeans and trousers cropped just above the ankle. Boyfriend coats with asymmetric closures and wide collars were offered in neutral camel and gray for the conservative dresser, and a range of soft pastels and brights hues for the more daring. Cobalt blue suits, scarlet a-line skirts, and a bubblegum pink mod dress may throw shoppers expecting BR's pre-Webb monochromatic classics for a loop, but are effortlessly chic styled over simple turtlenecks and tights. It's all the basics with a twist - a punch of color here, an exaggerated proportion there - that's fun, functional, and easy enough for the average suburbanite to look like a street style star.
Photo courtesy of Banana Republic