Ana Andjelic, Banana Republic’s chief brand officer, has abruptly left the company after only nine months on the job.
“Ana is no longer with Banana Republic,” said Sarah Staley, head of Banana Republic communications, confirming information obtained by WWD.
“We thank her for her time with the brand and wish her the best,” added Staley. “Sandra Stangl, president and chief executive officer of Banana Republic, continues to lead our mission to be the premier lifestyle brand that enhances people’s lives through elevated personal style and product.”
The company did not provide an explanation for Andjelic’s departure. Stangl recruited Andjelic in February 2021. Andjelic previously had stints at Mansur Gavriel and Rebecca Minkoff. Banana Republic designers worked under her supervision.
Andjelic’s departure could be related to whether Banana’s new positioning, which Andjelic was instrumental in formulating, has resonated with shoppers or hasn’t. “Ana’s departure is 100 percent unrelated to the brand’s repositioning resonating with customers,” said Staley.
“I am unbelievably proud of all that we have achieved in the past nine months and the results speak for themselves. They are positive,” Andjelic told WWD.
As reported by WWD, Banana Republic this fall began integrating trends and styles from its past to create “a new genre” in an attempt to regain relevance and recapture lost market share. The 43-year-old Banana Republic themed its fall 2021 campaign, “The New Look.”
“We’re reimagining every detail of the customer experience in the form of democratic, approachable and inclusive luxury,” Stangl, president and CEO of Gap Inc.’s Banana Republic division, said in a statement.
Andjelic told WWD that the essence of the new Banana “is really the essence of the old one. We are modernizing it in a way that combines three particular influences. We mixed the mythical American look, San Francisco imagination, and the late 1990s. Just like punk and yuppie defined a decade, and grunge and metrosexual clashed on the same streets, The New Look blurs sartorial codes. Call it post-genre fashion. Or call it post-fashion altogether.”
She cited elements that include design influences of Bonnie Cashin and Claire McCardell that set style standards for America in the ’50s and ’60s, the famed “safari look” utilizing upcycled military garments that catapulted Banana through the ’80s and ’90s, and the spirit of the late ’90s look revolving around suits and skirts for a work-related, more tailored approach.
“Combining all these three influences and you get the new Banana Republic look,” said Andjelic. “The whole point is to have a mix that is casual but can be dressed up, or something dressy that can be worn casual. That is the crux of the BR look,” she said.
Banana has also been trying to change its promotional posture and has been downsizing its store fleet. Back in 2020, it was revealed that 130 units would close by early 2024, but some stores are being upgraded.
Stangl was hired as BR’s president and CEO in November 2020. She formerly cofounded MINE, a pure-play home business. Earlier, she was an executive at Williams Sonoma for 23 years, and president of merchandising and business development for Restoration Hardware.