By  on July 25, 2007

Urban style for the creative class sums up Banana Republic's sensibility for fall, which will play out in a fashion offering designed to suggest refinement and in the contemporary art and graphic images portrayed in its advertising, stores and products.

"Our customers are creative souls, inspired by art and culture," said Chris Nicklo, vice president of marketing at Banana Republic, referring to the retailer's information about its consumers' mind-set.

The ad campaign's creative director, Raul Martinez, was challenged in the campaign to connect Banana Republic with a group he called the creative class. The effort to do so hinged on his idea of abstracting the bold prints in the brand's fall collection into works of art — art that will be precursors to the reproductions of contemporary paintings Banana began to place last week in some of its 450 stores.

"The product is hero, but we are merging it with the cultural scene," Martinez said. "The boldness of the [fashion] prints inspired us to bring that into a painterly space — mainly black-and-white prints with lots of polkadots, florals, stripes."

The ads, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier and styled by Joe Zee for the campaign themed Urban Refined, will appear in magazines such as Vogue, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Esquire and Elle Decor. The images also will run in newspapers, on billboards and kiosks in major metropolitan areas and online at Yahoo HotJobs on a site slated to go live in August.

Reproductions of 54 works by 16 artists are to be featured in Banana's stores, including those by oil painter Liz Gribin, graphic artist James Welling, digital artist Anne Sophie Stark and oil painter and photographer Jack Pierson. Framed art pieces eventually will be sharing shelf space with Banana's clothing and hung on the walls of all of its locations in the U.S., Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and the Middle East.

Subsequent marketing campaigns will integrate Banana's fashion with other aspects of American culture, possibly music, theater or books. "The link between the brand and art and culture will go on for the next two to three seasons, at a minimum," projected Nicklo, who pointed out the retailer's historic links with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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