I'm Elizabeth and God designed me to be an encourager, a dreamer, a story teller and most importantly, a Kingdom builder.
Dear Banana Republic,
I’ve been thinking about writing this letter for quite some time. I recently read an open letter to J. Crew from one of their customers and as I read her words I couldn’t help but think, “this is how I feel about my beloved Banana Republic.” You have lost your way. It happens to the best of us. We think we have to go with the flow, join the crowd, follow the trends. But in doing so, we lose what makes us uniquely and authentically us. As a women’s brand, you’ve lost your way.
Then today I read an article on CNN Money and I figured it was now or never. The article attributed a drop in BR sales due to the challenges of keeping up with “fast fashion.” You know what? I think the analysts are wrong. I don’t think sales of your clothing have fallen because you can’t keep up with what fast fashion retailers like H&M are selling. Sales have dropped because you’ve lost your way. I’ve been a loyal Banana Republic customer for years and you certainly haven’t lost me to stores like H&M with lower prices and lower quality materials and finishings. You’ve lost me to Ann Taylor. You’re no longer the go-to retailer (my go-to retailer) for fitted, classic apparel for stylish professional women.
Ten years ago I dreamed of the day that I would be able to afford to dress in Banana Republic. Five years ago, I finally was able to afford to start buying classic pieces. Pieces that to this day remain some of my favorites and hang in my closet. But something changed. It started slow, but it caught steam fast. The fitted silhouettes and the classic lines I loved from you were missing. In their place were baggy, ill-fitting tops and dresses that didn’t look and feel like me… and they didn’t look and feel like you either. And that right there, that’s where I think the problem lies. That’s why I think sales are down.
Women like me that up until recently considered ourselves the quintessential “Banana Republic woman” find ourselves lost when we walk into your stores. The clothes hanging on the racks and folded on the tables don’t feel like old friends, but more like strangers. It’s not that the clothes you’re selling aren’t beautiful, they are. But they’re not the clothes we’ve known you for, and they’re not our style. I don’t want loose, ill fitting outfits that feel like glorified pajamas. I want pencil skirts and fitted silk tops. I want jackets with clean lines and classic dresses I can wear to work, to church or on a date with my husband. I want cigarette pants (the only kind of cigarette I like) and Jackie O sweater sets. I used to worry about how many “great finds” I might discover when I walked into a Banana Republic. Now I worry about finding anything at all.
“If I’m a Millennial, why the heck would I spend $165 for a dress at Banana Republic when I could get something for $40 at H&M or Forever 21?” asked Rosenblum. “Fast fashion is pummeling the industry.” Source: CNNMoney.com
I am exactly the woman that will pay $165 for a dress at Banana Republic. That is if it’s a classic dress that I know won’t be out of style next season, or next week. And maybe that’s because I’m not a Millenial. I’m a Genexer who’s not looking for fast fashion, and I’m not alone. I’m looking for classic, classy, stylish clothing that is going to last. I’ve counted on Banana Republic for high quality fabrics, details and finishings to build a wardrobe that was classic and polished. Don’t get me started on the fact that as a petite woman your store was one of the few places I knew I could buy apparel that would fit me without the need to visit a seamstress.
It might be a simplified answer to a really complicated situation. Seriously, I don’t know anything about fashion, except that I’m having a harder and harder time finding the kind I love. So take it with a grain of salt when I say “you’ve lost your way,” but it might also be that going back to your roots is the best thing for you. The change didn’t happen overnight. Losing your way usually doesn’t. It happens when one decision leads to another and pretty soon you’re headed down a path you don’t recognize. That’s when it’s time to stop, ask for directions and get back on track. I for one hope you do. I would love to walk into a Banana Republic one day soon and find myself overwhelmed with choices. Oh the good old days.
Tiny and missing classic BR,
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