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Banana Republic Discovers There’s a Market Beyond Skinny People

  • The preppy retailer is on a mission to broaden its appeal
  • Gap seeks to rejuvenate its brands ahead of Old Navy spinoff
True Hues
True HuesSource: Banana Republic

Banana Republic, the preppy apparel retailer that’s mired in a sales slump, has identified one of its key strategic errors: The demographic it targets is too narrow.

“Banana Republic has historically been known as a skinny brand,” said Art Peck, chief executive officer of Gap Inc., which owns the chain -- a perception that keeps some potential customers away. Meanwhile, a diversity council that works to weed out bias in the design process flagged another issue to management: The range of colors on apparel items meant to match skin tones was too limited.