Banana Republic Takes Cues From ’70s and Equestrians for Fall

With many designers going back to the classics for Fall 2011, it's no surprise that Banana Republic is following suit. Simon Kneen, the creative design director of Banana Republic since 2008, sent out fall essentials with an equestrian edge and hints of the 1970s at the label’s Bowery Hotel show. Mustard, camel and pops of red and ivory enhanced the collection’s autumnal feeling, as did the show’s layering.

Kneen cited Faye Dunaway as an inspiration this season—evident in the retro camel cut trousers, cowl neck sweaters and felt fedoras that made their way down the runway. There were also equestrian influences—caramel riding boots and tweed blazers fit for an afternoon in the Cotswolds. The unexpected styling moments spurred by Lori Goldstein gave the show a nice edge—a ruched strapless taupe dress for instance paired with braided boots.

Signaling the increasing importance of menswear to the mid-market chain, the men’s collection was shown right along with women’s. Think charcoal tailored suits, leather bombers and newsboy caps. 

The accessories were standouts including stacked platform loafers, mini crossbody bags in suede and python and perfectly chic leopard pumps.

Banana Republic, the “attainable luxury” retailer under the Gap Inc. umbrella has been hit particularly hard by the Japan crisis, since Gap Inc. operates over 150 stores in the country. The label is struggling in the US market as well: North American revenue fell 8 percent for the first quarter of this year at Banana Republic amidst surprisingly strong sales numbers in the retail sector overall. This may explain the back to basics approach that the brand is taking for the upcoming fall season. Kneen and Banana Republic are betting that shoppers will be looking for clothes with heritage influences and luxury detailing to fill their fall wardrobes.

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