Banana Republic says its continuing to broaden the home collection, while firmly denying market speculation that the line would be discontinued.
“Banana Republic Home is not being discontinued. In fact there is more product coming,” an official assured WWD.
The company will launch more bedding, dining and bath products, the company told WWD.
Efforts to develop Banana Republic Home go back three years when Sandra Stengl, who has an extensive résumé in the home sector, joined Banana Republic as president and chief executive officer. She cofounded and was the chief merchant of Mine, a pure-play home business, and worked at Williams Sonoma and RH (formerly Restoration Hardware).
Last spring, Banana Republic launched home textiles, and last fall added sofas, tables, chairs, rugs, lighting and decor to its collection. The expansion was another step to evolve into a true lifestyle brand, and for the company to be less dependent on men’s and women’s fashion. Two other categories — BR Baby and BR Athletic — were added about a year ago.
“As we continue to evolve Banana Republic as a premium lifestyle brand rooted in exploration and self-expression, we’ll do so through inspirational experiences and high-touch personal services that support our customers’ style journey,” a statement from the company said. Banana Republic did launch some soft home and personal care products in the mid ’90s, but the category was short-lived.
There has been speculation that Banana’s new home business has not been resonating enough with consumers and could be discontinued soon, though product and category introductions take time to catch on, and Gap Inc. has invested big in growing its home collection for the future. One source close to the company said some consumers shopping Banana Republic’s temporary home store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood felt certain pieces were too large for their city apartments. Another source indicated some home products, such as blankets and comforters, were removed from the Brookfield Place store in lower Manhattan, leaving only a limited assortment of pillows. Banana’s home collection is sold on the brand’s dedicated home website and in a handful of select Banana Republic stores.
In a recent interview with WWD, Gap Inc. president and chief executive officer Richard Dickson spoke of the opportunities with Banana Republic Home. “There’s a reason for it to be. It’s an extension of our brand that has credibility, to exist, but needs further attention and work to ensure that has credibility and connectivity,” said Dickson. “It needs work. It’s the right intent. And we need to ensure that the pace that we evolve it takes in careful consideration along the way.”
Business at Banana has been challenging for many seasons, and during the third quarter of 2023, net sales were down 11 percent and comparable sales were down 8 percent. By launching into home, Banana confronts strong competition from RH, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Wayfair and Home Depot, among other retailers.
It’s possible that along with Dickson, Zac Posen, newly appointed creative director of Gap Inc. and chief creative officer for the Old Navy division, gets involved in developing Banana Republic Home. Posen will serve as a cultural curator and creative partner to Dickson, and has been involved in designing apartments.