September 7, 2018
When she was a fashion-obsessed kid in Somerset, England, Becky Holmes got her mum to teach her how to sew by hand. As a college student studying fashion design in London, she interned at the Gap in New York City — and from that foot-in-the-door experience, she’s grown into a key member of the Banana Republic womenswear team in San Francisco. Here’s her story.
Tell us about your job — what’s your day-to-day like?
I help design women’s knits and sweaters for Banana Republic. I’m part of the design process from beginning to end: from researching and building design boards, to designing pieces and building tech packages, to making decisions about details like what kind of stitching we want or where graphics should be placed on a T-shirt.
How did you get to Banana Republic?
My first summer internship while I was studying fashion design in college [Kingston University, in London] was actually at the Gap in New York City — I was really excited to work for Gap Inc. and loved that experience. After graduation, I took part in a student design competition at Pitti Filatti, an international yarn show in Florence. I created two looks, menswear and womenswear, that received a special award from Banana Republic: a six-month placement with the brand in NYC, in the same building where I had interned for the Gap.
What was it like to move from the Gap to Banana Republic?
It felt like coming home! I had really enjoyed my time at the Gap, and it was fantastic to experience a completely different brand within the same company. The reasons I liked the Gap are the same reasons I like Banana Republic: your opinion is valued, it’s a relaxed atmosphere that isn’t at all cutthroat, and there’s not a strict hierarchy. Banana Republic is the same workplace experience, but a different brand experience.
What is it about the Banana Republic brand that speaks to you?
The history of the brand is really interesting to me — the vintage military and safari pieces that made Banana Republic famous. Right now we’re looking at how to combine that history with the modern, elevated dressing Banana Republic is known for today.
It’s pretty amazing that you went straight from being an intern at Banana Republic to being a full-time member of the team.
It’s so great to be part of the team. The whole thing was a little surreal: After my internship ended, I was offered my current role, which meant moving from New York to the Bay Area with the rest of the team last spring — so even though I’d been with the company for a few months, everything was new. Most of the rest of my team was new as well, which has been a really exciting process to go through. We’re refreshing everything we did before, rather than just doing it the same way we’ve always done it. And we all get to have our say — everyone is welcome to suggest ways to make things better.
What do you think is most cool about working at Banana Republic HQ?
So many things. The space here is super-cool — the canteen has a roof deck where you can sit outside for lunch and look out over the bay. This is just a really good company to work for. It feels very equal, everyone feels valued and we’re all doing our bit to help. But the most cool thing is when I see a product I created in a magazine, or see someone wearing it on the street. “That started out as my little pencil sketch! And now somebody is wearing it!”
What are you working on right now?
We’re just starting work on Fall 2019. This week we’ll be shopping our competitors in stores and online, going to art galleries, paging through magazines, looking at what our muses are wearing. We’re looking for ideas so we can start on our design boards. I know it sounds like fun, but it’s completely different from shopping for yourself — you’re going in with your work eye rather than your Saturday Funday eye!
Becky is a major design talent and an enormous asset to the Banana Republic team … of course she’s one of a kind, but we’re always looking for creative fashion obsessives to join us. Check out open jobs at Banana Republic here
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