Much like a plain slice of Wonderbread, it's usually pretty hard for me to get excited about Banana Republic. Their main line tends to produce a lot of generic basics that are often done better by others in the same price range, there's something about many of their garments that feels a little glossy and almost saccharin, and they suffer from the placement of some ill-advised accents - like a strip of polka dot color contrast somewhere on the collar or another pattern thrown together in an attempt to make their clothes stand out.
That being said, some things in their Heritage collection are really interesting, despite the painful overuse of the term "Heritage" (is it supposed to reference Banana Republic's safari outfitter heritage? That doesn't really make a whole lot of sense). This A/W they've got some formidable sweaters, and with the inevitable sales games and spring cleaning they are a pretty great value if you can find them in your local store (as they're pretty picked over online). There's just a certain gravitas a heavy knit brings that can make thinner Merino's look a bit anemic. Here is a bear of a Cowichan-style sweater I picked up, fleece lined, heavy as hell, and made in a blend of wool, cotton, alpaca, mohair, with a little acrylic and nylon for resilience. The design is muted in earth tones, and it's got enough body to keep you warm when the weather dips into the 40's.
I also bought a patchwork cardigan from the collection that's pretty heavy in its own right and has a significantly longer drape combined with some asymmetric cable knitting and a toggle wood top closure. It's not as insulated, but the design is more intriguing - almost akin to something like the Americana coming out of Japan right now. Even more than the jacket-like zip sweater above, I find myself wearing and enjoying this quite a bit more than I had anticipated.
|Also Pictured: Henley - Club Monaco, Pants - Rag and Bone, Belt - Thirteen50 Leather|
To top it off, I bought some cotton utility split back trousers with subtle knee pleating/articulation, zip pockets, some hidden internal details, and a formidable hook/bar closure built in a slim silhouette - for $20's on sale. Not bad.
|Also Pictured: Chambray - Wolf vs. Goat, Pants - BR Heritage, Belt - Don't Mourn! Organize|
Both sweaters were purchased at ~$50 from MSRP ~$200 each after an extra 60% off sale items. By now you should know what I think of most MSRPs, especially at places like BR and J. Crew, but comparable items with the same aesthetic, materials, and weight will usually be well into the $100's on a lucky day sold through someone else (though J. Crew is selling a similar style I've not seen in person at a street price of ~$80 right now including their customary ~40% off sale discounts). It's true that you can find sweaters ~$40 or lower easily if you're even a casual shopper, but those are usually the thinner crew or V-necks that come a dime a dozen. As much frustration as I have with a lot of BR, I can't help but like the work someone is doing over there.
Fire the polka dot collar guy. Promote this guy.
Banana Republic Heritage Line