Banana Republic (Shop)

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Banana Republic (Shop)

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Review of "Banana Republic (Shop)"

published 29/04/2010 | rosebud2001
Member since : 04/05/2009
Reviews : 444
Members who trust : 189
About me :
Off to Vegas for some sunshine...back soon :-)
Super
Pro Pleasant shopping environment, quality clothing with a fashion twist, classic designs
Cons Quite expensive, only three UK stores at present, no permanent sale section
very helpful
Range of products
Value for Money
Speed of delivery

"An Understated Republic"

Pink silk blend boyfriend sweater I purchased at Banana Republic.

Pink silk blend boyfriend sweater I purchased at Banana Republic.

For anyone who has ever visited the US and gone shopping, they will more than likely have encountered the clothing chain Banana Republic - it is, after all, a store that tends to have a branch at almost every major shopping mall or street there.

I have been buying clothes for myself in Banana Republic since I first went to the US and have a soft spot for their clothing, even though I have to be honest and say that much of it is overpriced - however in the US there is a permanent Sale section which makes shopping there more accessible for those of us who don't have money to burn on clothes.

History

Banana Republic was founded in 1978 as a travel clothing store, specialising in safari wear but was acquired by Gap Inc in 1983 who changed the brand into a higher end chain clothing store, and in the ensuing period it has grown into one of the most widely recognised US clothing chains. There are now over 500 stores in the US with a growing number of stores around the world.

The company finally opened a UK store on London's Regent Street in 2008, and there are now three stores in the capital, with the other two on Long Acre in Covent Garden and in Brent Cross Shopping Centre.

Style

The stores offer menswear and womenswear but don't expect high fashion here - the clothing is really aimed at an older audience - or a younger audience which appreciates classic clothing made from, by and large, quality fabrics.

Whilst the style isn't as preppy as fellow US retailer Brooks Brothers, there are crisp shirts and quality knits as well as well tailored jackets.

Silk is a favoured fabric in Banana Republic, and I must admit to having a weakness for this fabric. Having spent some time browsing both the Regent Street and Covent Garden stores, I was taken by many of the well designed silk tops instore for summer.

Instead of high fashion you get quality clothing with a bit of a fashion twist - for instance a grosgrain ribbon bow tie at the back of a top, silk trim on a short sleeved knitted cotton cardigan or ruffles around a neckline.

The Stores

Banana Replublic stores are always very neatly laid out - and everything about them always strikes me as orderly and tidy. Clothes are arranged either on hangers or folded on shelves or desk areas on the floor. They are almost always laid out depending upon colours - so if you are looking for, say, a blue sweater,you will more likely than not find it beside a swathe of other blue items.

This colour co-ordination makes for reasonably easy shopping I find - as someone who rarely wears blue, I find I can easily skip that area altogether for instance.

The interiors are always stylish but sleek - the racks are gleaming chrome but good use of wood is used on floors, stairs, shelving and banisters. There are also lots of seats dotted around the stores, which is something I really appreciate as mother to a child who only tolerates shopping if it's being done for her.

Service is understated - which a word which sums up Banana Republic very well - the clothing is understated but stylish, the interiors are understated but effective and so is the service you can expect to receive. Staff will approach you if you look bemused or look as if you are looking for something but mostly they leave you alone.

All stores have fitting rooms which are clean and spacious - a clean fitting room is something I really appreciate as so many high street stores seem to overlook the cleanliness of these areas and some are quite frankly a disgrace. There is a stool in each fitting room and ample hanging space for clothing.

My Thoughts

I have used Banana Republic stores in the US for some time and have always been impressed with their clothing. My husband was a big fan of their clothing too, being particularly fond of their tailored menswear and chino trousers. My knowledge of their menswear is limited to the clothing he bought however so I cannot really effectively comment on menswear as a result.

Womenswear I have far more experience of however and have purchased many items over the years although most of what I have bought has been tops and t-shirts, with the odd accessory and pair of shoes thrown in.

I have always liked the little fashion twists Banana Republic add to their clothing, meaning a top from there rarely looked similar to something from another store, and over the years have purchased items of clothing which included pretty self tie belts, subtle smocking around necklines, silk detailing around sleeves and necklines and other details which other stores didn't seem so keen to try out on their clothing.

On my last trip to the US I was taken by a long line boyfriend style v-neck sweater in the store which was made of a blend of silk and cotton and instead of having a plunging v-neck had a higher one which also featured a slightly ruffled detail around the neckline. The fabric was absolutely divine - soft and comfortable and despite the label proclaiming it was hand wash only has been through several hand wash cycles in the washing machine with no ill-effect.

Pricewise this set me back $55 plus tax and I was curious to see how US prices would translate in the UK stores and was relieved to see the same jumper, albeit not in the colour I had purchased, for sale at £39.50, which although expensive, wasn't entirely unreasonable.

The cheapest things you can buy in Banana Republic are basic t-shirts, and vests, which will set you back between £10 and £15. For anything with the most basic of detailing you are looking at £20 but £29.50 is a bit nearer the mark. Silk summer tops are priced between £39.50 and £49.50 with dresses averaging around the £75 mark but jackets are closer to £100.

Quality wise it's pretty good - certainly basic cotton t-shirts are made of thick material, but some of their jersey items containing viscose are not quite so dense fabric wise. This is fine for a sheer jersey evening top but perhaps not quite so good if you are looking for something more substantial. Cotton is well used here as well silk you will find.

I still own tops I purchased at Banana Republic over 6 years ago - this is a sign of both the quality and the fact their clothes are classic in style - without being the sort of thing your gran would wear.

A lot of Banana Republic clothing is dry clean only so check the label before you buy if this might be a problem for you.

Sizes are similar to Gap with US sizes used for some dresses and for trousers and skirts, but XS-XL used on tops. There is also a small Petites section available for those who are 5 foot 2 inches and under. Generally if you are between a UK size 6 and UK 18 you will find something that fits you here.

I found the entire experience of shopping in Banana Republic to be enjoyable - I liked how well laid out the clothes were (although I did, as ever, struggle with some of the neatly folded piles of clothing as I rummaged in search of my size - so apologies to any sales staff who had to refold this!) and how I could shop without having my brain befuddled by blaring music, garish lighting and over enthusiastic sales staff.

Paying was a pleasant experience too - there wasn't a queue and the process was quick and done with a smile.

Items are given to you in a thick paper bag which is made from recycled paper which you are encouraged to reuse and recycle again, although I must admit the fabric handles are possibly not quite as "green" as the bags are.

One thing which I was delighted by is Banana Republic's refund policy - there is a very generous 90 day return period so if you change your mind you have plenty of time to return your unworn item - so long as you keep your receipt of course! If you do lose your receipt the store will give a credit note for the return of unworn and unwashed items to the store.

You cannot, however, return items you bought in Banana Republic stores outwith the UK so if you changed your mind about something you bought on a trip to the US you will still be stuck with it!

The only thing I was a bit disappointed about was the lack of a permanent sale section in the UK stores. I don't know how often Banana Republic have sales in these stores either so perhaps it might be best to assume they are merely bi-annual at the end of each season.

Final Thoughts

If you like understated but classic clothing then Banana Republic is possibly the place for you. High fashion it is not but the clothing you find there is perfect for office wear, evening wear or holiday wear, along with casual items too.

Prices are not particularly cheap - and overall you might find it cheaper to shop in their US stores if you visit - however they are not prohibitively expensive either and you will benefit from the fact clothing from there is genuinely different to much of the stuff available from UK chains.

The experience of shopping there is a pleasant one - the fact I was able to visit two branches with a very reluctant daughter who was actually quite happy to sit down and let me browse uninterrupted says something about how calming and well designed their stores are, with the emphasis on organised as opposed to the organised chaos you encounter so often in other stores.

It is unfortunate that at present there are only three stores in the UK but one can but hope that perhaps their London success will lead to more stores opening in major provincial cities in time.

For now, I would say if you are shopping in London it's worth popping in and checking out Banana Republic yourself.

Update

Banana Republic will be launching an online store for UK customers in the near future. You can register your interest at their website.

www.bananarepublic.eu

Please ignore the "speed of delivery" criteria Ciao have included - this is irrelevant when reviewing a physical store

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Comments on this review

  • silverstreak published 16/06/2010
    I bought a couple of tops in a sale a when in the US a few years ago - very reasonable in fact. And yes, it's so tidy and organised, a pity some of the stores over here don't follow suit.
  • frain2005 published 02/05/2010
    Very good review!
  • Praski published 02/05/2010
    Great name for a shop. Splendid review - personal and opinionated. Owe U an E.
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Product Information : Banana Republic (Shop)

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Listed on Ciao since: 17/04/2010