It’s the beginning of a new era for mall mega-brand Banana Republic.
It was announced today that the brand’s new creative director will be Marissa Webb, a veteran of J. Crew, who has her own casual contemporary label that is sold in stores such as Barneys New York.
Webb replaces Simon Kneen, who was with Banana Republic from 2009 to December 2013, during which time the core collections became increasingly dull, and the brand lost ground to J. Crew, H&M and other specialty retailers. Perhaps to compensate, Banana Republic rolled out a series of upscale collaborations with designers such as Trina Turk, the late L’Wren Scott and, just announced this week, Roland Mouret.
Prior to launching her own label in 2011, Webb spent time at Polo, Club Monaco and over a decade at J. Crew, where she served in various design roles, including head of womenswear and accessories design.
Social media savvy, she's active on Instagram. She's also been featured in the pages of Lucky Magazine as one of its 2013 designers to watch. Louise Roe, Cory Kennedy and Alyssa Milano attended her fall 2014 show during New York Fashion Week.
Webb will retain her role as president and creative director at Marissa Webb, in addition to her newly appointed role at Banana Republic as creative director and executive vice president, design.
Looking for clues to what she might bring to Banana Republic? Webb's eponymous spring collection includes separates with moto and military details, asymmetrical tweed pencil skirts and draped crepe shirtdresses.
Webb’s first collection for Banana Republic is expected in the summer of 2015.
Banana Republic started in 1978 in San Francisco as an urban safari outfitters, khaki shorts, pith hats, fake palm trees and all. Since 1983, it has been a subsidiary of Gap Inc., which presided over its transformation into a mainstream clothier for men and women. Banana Republic has more than 600 stores in 32 countries.
According to Gap Inc. financial reports released earlier this week, Banana Republic's March 2014 same store sales declined 4% over last year (compared to a 1% increase from 2012 to 2013).
[For the Record, 12:51 p.m. PDT Apr. 15: An earlier version of this post said Banana Republic was founded in 1976 in Grove City, Ohio. Actually, it was 1978 in San Francisco.]
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