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Banana Republic: Sink Or Swim?

By Lauren Ford
Posted On Nov 11, 2015
Banana Republic: Sink Or Swim?

Poor little rich brand, Banana Republic cannot seem to keep up with the fast-fashion take over. Brands like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 with their fast turnaround of fashion are cramping Banana Republic’s style. And by cramping we mean crushing Banana Republic’s sales big time. Its sales plummeted 12% in the last quarter and 15% in the last month.

 

A Banana Republic corporate spokesperson described their issues as “product acceptance challenges.” Which sounds like a nice way of saying that nobody likes their products.  This could be because they aren’t in the fast-fashion game. They don’t keep up with the latest trends as fast as competitors do. The thing about mature retail brands like Banana is that they order their apparel up to a year in advance, which is about 6 months too soon to keep up with the ever-changing fashion landscape.

 

For millennial shoppers such as myself, there’s no reason for me to spend $190 on a dress at Banana Republic that I could get for $40 at H&M.  Yeah, the quality may not be as good, but chances are it will go out of style by the end of the year anyway. And I think that is where they are missing the mark. Granted, they are targeting an older more sophisticated shopper that prefers quality over price, but where is this market and why aren’t they reaching them effectively?

 

What will Banana Republic do to turn their decline around? Here is my millennial advice to Banana Republic: If you can’t beat them, join them. I’m not saying halt all production and flip the store into a cheaper version of itself. I’m simply saying dip your hand into the fast-fashion game. Create a new sub-line to the Banana Republic brand, targeting millennials by offering high fashion and lower prices. This will get the younger generations shopping and interacting with the brand and maybe even get their parents in there to shop the traditional Banana brand. It’s a win/win if I ever heard of one.

 

As an avid shopper and lover of all things retail, I really hope to see the brand recover from the rut they seem to be stuck in. The irony here is that a banana republic is a small poor country and if the Banana brand doesn’t do anything about this problem, their name will become their fate. C’mon Banana Republic, were rooting for you.