The inside scoop on the season’s best workwear
You’ll find Banana Republic’s archive down a few flights of stairs at the brand’s Tribeca headquarters in New York. Its stacks include a trove of carefully catalogued thrift store finds, eBay gems and previous season’s looks that reveal the brand’s evolution from 1980s safari- clothing outfitter to today’s modern workwear destination.
The archives aren’t just a selfcongratulatory token: The extensive collection of clothing, which spans the past 40 years, acts as a rich source of inspiration for the current design team. Sonia Martin, vice-president of women’s design, explains that a collection always begins with an outing to the archive. “You pull the pieces, look at them and decide to do something based on it,” she explains, rifling through a few slip dresses from the early 2000s. “We’re always trying to work in a free way because the answer is on the rack.”
This spring, the answer was a throwback to Banana Republic’s ’ 90s heyday when utility jumpsuits and suede jackets were as ubiqui
tous as today’s athleisure trend. “We started loving all the minimal layers and natural colours— the simplicity of it,” says Martin. Rather than create carbon copies of the classics, Martin says her approach is to “deconstruct and re-imagine.” That translates into a contemporary offering imbued with vintage vibes.
This season’s modern perspective came from Martin’s team’s travels to the Indian cities of Jaipur, Delhi and Goa where they took in everything from the local craftsmanship and ancient architecture to the vibrant flora that punctuates the country’s Himalayan region. The mash-up of old and new shines in the details: Laser- cut scalloped dresses pay homage to India’s famous archways; traditional sari dressing informs the asymmetric play on stripes; and saturated indigo hues celebrate its revered history of textile innovation. “I think we design something unique, without a single point of reference,” says Martin. “We always talk about how we’re designers but actually craftspeople, always working with our hands.”
BANANA REPUBLIC JACKET, $550, DRESS, $160, BAG, $124, SHOES, $138, BANANA REPUBLIC