TOP BA­NANA

The in­side scoop on the sea­son’s best work­wear

The Kit - - FRONT PAGE - BY JIL­LIAN VIEIRA

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

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