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4 Jan

What to Watch: J. Crew’s fortieth, Banana Republic’s Traction

Fashion on the mall is beginning to look so much higher, due to recent energy and marketing initiatives at two of America’s major retail chains.

On a cold day just before Thanksgiving, a gaggle of well-heeled L.A. women were rushing racks of J. Crew feather-trimmed cotton poplin shirts, vivid yellow bouclé jackets, pink velvet blazers and black crystal-covered satin pouch bags, because the brand’s women’s creative director Olympia Gayot looked on nearby.

They weren’t at a store, but moderately the tony private club San Vicente Bungalows, where the brand hosted a gifting suite and Gayot hobnobbed with Diane Keaton, Amy Adams, Elizabeth Banks and Ali Wong as they picked up goodies on the event, which was organized by influencer marketing agency The A List.

As J. Crew celebrates 40 years in 2023, Gayot has emerged as a mode inspiration the likes of which the brand hasn’t seen since Jenna Lyons, and her designs are starting to resonate with consumers in any respect levels.

Her weekly outfit roundups have turn out to be a must-follow on TikTok, where she posts herself within the brand’s newest looks, sparking desire amongst users for silver pants, slip dresses and mixing vivid colours like pink and yellow.

Her rising profile, which has included features in Vogue and Fashionista, is one in all several signs that J. Crew Group, parent of the J. Crew, Madewell and Crewcuts brands, is in turnaround mode.

On the lads’s side, Brandon Babenzien of Noah and Supreme fame has generated similar buzz pushing giant chinos and the recent collaboration with Japanese label Beams.

Profitability has returned, and investments have been made in technology, omni-capabilities, refreshing stores, and in launching catalogs again, chief executive officer Libby Wadle told WWD.

J. Crew released a buzzy holiday social media marketing campaign with married actors Jodie Turner Smith and Joshua Jackson, following earlier 2022 campaigns with Keaton, Julianne Moore, Sadie Sink and others. The brand has also hinted that it could return to Recent York Fashion Week.

The fortieth anniversary will bring seasonal collections on each the lads’s and ladies’s sides, in addition to more partnerships and collaborations.

Meanwhile, on the beleaguered Gap Inc., Banana Republic has been a vivid spot. Sales grew 8 percent through the fourth quarter year-over-year to $517 million, with comparable sales rising 10 percent year-over-year. 

Like J. Crew, Banana Republic has been a hot topic on TikTok, where the $400 Vida tote bag became a viral sensation. “They’re trying to present a Khaite-meets the Row-meets Western vibe,” one user posted, singling out the bag, a fringed check coat and pleated corduroy pants in the autumn collection. “Don’t get me fallacious, the value tag is steep, but they’re definitely making a jump of their design.”

The Banana Republic holiday collection.

Courtesy image.

Banana Republic has also been performing some insider couples’ seeding, dressing “Tell Me Lies” on-screen and off-screen pair Grace Van Patten and Jackson White in cozy puffers, sweaters and cargo pants for a vacation shopping jaunt photo op in December.

Sandra Stangl, Banana Republic’s president and CEO, has been working to raise the image (and the value points) of the brand, including launching recent BR Baby and BR Athletics categories. She has streamlined the shop count and refreshed the interiors but continues to be looking for a chief brand officer — presumably someone who would take to social media like Gayot.

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