November 8, 2019
The job of a designer requires a little bit of magic: taking what we know our customers are looking for and combining it with a creative vision and what is on trend for the season to create an item that becomes a favorite wardrobe staple. But with trends moving faster than ever and the average time of producing a garment being anywhere from 18 to 20 weeks, that sometimes means a great trend may slip through the cracks in our assortment.
"In August, when we were getting ready to launch our next product flow, we had our full assortment ready before realizing that we were missing the additional colored animal prints trend we were seeing on the runways and in editorials," said Cynthia Ng, Vice President of Design for Banana Republic Factory. "At that point, with our previous model, it would have been too late to add it."
Working with our factory partners, Banana Republic Specialty and Factory teams sprang into action to pilot a new program for responsive, faster production. With this approach, Gap Inc. brands are able to design product and receive the inventory in just eight weeks, compared to the more typical lead time of 18 to 20 weeks, and can order additional units to their distribution centers in four weeks for items that are popular and start to sell out. Banana Republic has a manufacturing partner that they collaborate with to shop the market, attend fashion shows, and understand the trends and infuse what's going on in the market into the product.
Banana Republic Specialty and Factory have already seen some early success with this model. After piloting this new approach in the fall with the leopard and colored animal print collections, not only did it mean Banana Republic could have great style in the store faster, but the pieces performed with higher average unit revenue and fewer markdowns than the overall brand assortment. It also enables designers to focus on some of the styles and pieces that may be missing or new designs they want to try and get into stores and online faster.
"We used the responsive design model for our fall leopard print capsule," said Andrea Severson, Senior Director of Production, Women's for Banana Republic Specialty. "We saw how popular leopard print was looking after we were already underway with the fall line, so it was a good opportunity to use the fast method."
Feedback from our customers have been very positive towards the leopard print collection and the team has been able to quickly reorder some styles multiple times based on sales. In fact, the APS (average unit sales per store per week) of the animal print styles has been anywhere from 1.5x to 2x as strong as the regular collections.
On the Factory side, once the team realized that the colored animal print style was going to be a marketable trend, they were able to adopt it and get it into stores in eight weeks. So far, the fall capsule of colored animal print has also been outperforming expectations.
"The collection has performed really well and been very well-received by our customers, with a higher average revenue than our traditional pipeline collection," said Cynthia. "There's a lot more work to be done to collectively change our behaviors and make this a standard part of our process, but the results so far have been promising."
As we look ahead toward the holiday season, Banana Republic used responsive capabilities for new trends. In BR Factory, this includes zebra print in black/white and copper/gray, fresh mint & toile print, and flocked dot tulle. In our Specialty stores, look out for winter paisley, 70’s-inspired Parisian, jewel tones and animal prints, and romantic tops and dresses in winter floral. Check out the New Arrivals page for Factory and Specialty to keep an eye on when these launch!