Julie Rosen is returning to Banana Republic on May 26 as senior vice president of merchandising.
This story first appeared in the May 6, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
A 15-year veteran of Gap Inc., Rosen will lead all product merchandising for Banana Republic, including men’s, women’s and accessories, as well as manage licensing relationships with third-party vendors. She will report to Banana Republic president Jack Calhoun. She succeeds Nick Coe, who left at the end of 2008 to become president of the Lands’ End unit of Sears Holdings Corp.
“We’re pleased to have her back, especially during these challenging economic times for consumers, where product differentiation and distinct assortments are so vital to our brand’s success.,” said Calhoun.
Banana Republic has been attempting to reestablish its image and appeal amid difficult sales trends and drooping traffic. Recently, Gap chairman and chief executive Glenn Murphy criticized the clothes for becoming too serious and losing their cool factor, though he did characterize Banana Republic as still a significant and important part of the Gap portfolio. Earlier this year when the retailer issued its fourth-quarter report card, Murphy characterized Banana Republic’s performance as disappointing, affected by the pullback in the luxury market, though it’s positioned as affordable luxury. He also mentioned the possibility of closing some of the chain’s 450 units.
During the Nineties, Rosen held a similar role at Banana Republic and was part of the team that repositioned the brand as “affordable luxury,” the company said.
Between 1991 and 2006, she held merchandising roles of increasing responsibility at Gap, including head of merchandising for Gap brand.
After leaving Gap in 2006, Rosen worked for a short period as senior vice president of merchandising at Bare Escentuals, but mostly she’s been working as a consultant to various brands including Theory, Nike and Chrome Hearts, according to Gap.
“I grew up here, and I’m delighted to be back,” said Rosen. “Banana Republic is a strong brand with an incredible legacy, and I’m looking forward to helping the team take the brand forward.”
Banana Republic’s fall collection is being themed around what creative director Simon Kneen termed “being prepared for anything and everything in the face of adversity.” The collection includes chunky knits, tailored military jackets, skinny leather pants and silk dresses.