Banana Republic, a once-iconic fashion retailer, has experienced a decline in quality and sales over the years. The brand’s downfall can be attributed to several factors, including increased competition from fast-fashion retailers, changes in consumer preferences, and an inability to justify its premium price points.
In the early 1980s, Gap Inc. acquired Banana Republic and rebranded it from a safari-themed store to a professional clothing retailer, offering suits and shift dresses. However, as the years passed, the brand faced stiff competition from more affordable fast-fashion retailers like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21.
These competitors were able to replicate recent catwalk trends and high-fashion designs at a lower cost, quickly bringing them to retail stores while demand was at its highest. This led to a significant decline in Banana Republic’s sales, with a 12% drop in the last quarter and a 15% decrease in just one month in 2015.
Another factor contributing to the decline in quality is the brand’s failure to adapt to changing consumer preferences. Banana Republic lacked lifestyle activewear, which has become one of the fastest-growing apparel markets. Department stores like Nordstrom have improved their wear-to-work fashions and price points, further challenging Banana Republic’s position in the market.
Moreover, Banana Republic struggled to justify its premium price points, leaving consumers with little incentive to shift their spending from rival brands. The merchandise assortment for men’s and women’s clothing lacked the pizazz needed to attract customers and keep them loyal to the brand.
As a result of these challenges, Banana Republic has been closing stores since 2020, with plans for a major three-year revamp of its retail footprint. The journey is not likely to end with just the two confirmed closures in 2023, as Gap Inc. continues to reevaluate its strategy for the struggling brand.
Most recently, Banana Republic launches it’s new BR Home collection, unveiled on March 28, 2023, features an exquisite range of rugs, bedding, decor, and more. This exciting expansion is a testament to the brand’s commitment to providing high-quality products that cater to their customers’ personal styles.With prices ranging from $40 to $7,550, the collection offers something for everyone, from luxurious velvet pillows in earthy shades to alpaca bouclé throws and cotton striped sheets
Sandra Stangl, president and CEO of Banana Republic, emphasizes the importance of home as an extension of personal style. The design process involved extensive global travel and conversations with makers and artisans to create products that celebrate their artistry and use of natural materials.
The BR Home collection is a welcome addition to the brand’s repertoire as it attempts to rebrand, offering consumers a chance to bring the timeless elegance of Banana Republic into their homes.
Jeanel has 15 years of retail, marketing and brand management experience. She has started an ecommerce business in 2019, after working in corporate retail and real estate as a senior managing director and former consultant. She's traveled all over the world, speaks at world renowned trade shows and events, holds a Bachelor’s of Commerce (B.Comm) and a Certificate in Commercial Real Estate. You can connect with her on Linkedin.