Diving Into Banana Republic’s Extensive Use of Athletes

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Banana Republic Kevin Love
Photo Courtesy Kevin Love

Kevin Love and Jared Goff are lending more than just their modeling skills to Banana Republic, as the pair are instrumental in helping shape some of the brand’s male fashion lines.

Love was the company’s first global men’s style ambassador and as Banana Republic CMO Mary Alderete says, “helped put Banana Republic’s tailored performance mix on the map” in spring 2016 and launched “BR/K.Love-18,” the company’s first collection co-designed with an athlete last fall. This summer, the brand is putting Goff front and center, as well, showing off Banana Republic’s “Core Temp” collection.

By bringing in athletes, Banana Republic has acknowledged these individuals drive trends beyond the sports world.

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“The stadium is the new runway and athletes are both performance and style icons,”  Alderete says. “Athletes are getting photographed entering stadiums for their games, just as models are shot on the runway. It has become part of the pregame ritual and media coverage.”

Banana Republic is tapping into the emotions of sports fans, leveraging the connection between athletes and fans to draw in new consumers.

“[Athletes] are attractive for brands to use in their marketing for one reason: The strong emotions that fans hold for their favorite players and teams,” says David Meltzer, CEO and co-founder, Sports 1 Marketing. “People buy on emotion for logical reasons and a collaboration between a brand and their favorite athlete will invariably lead to increased attention on a company’s products and services.”

Banana Republic’s content strategy focuses on three main aspects, according to Alderete: “Give me access, give me more and multidimensional stories, tell me something I don’t know.”

With those points in mind, athletes are rolled out when there’s an ideal fit for a new line, like Goff and the “Core Temp” product. Alderete also notes Goff’s “modern, effortless California style” complements Love’s “more classically tailored menswear styles,” which helps showcase the versatility of Banana Republic’s options.

“Our athletes are chosen based on their authentic connection with the brand and how their personal style narrative connects with the product stories we tell,” Alderete says. “Jared’s cool-under-pressure style of play was a natural fit for our body temperature regulating Core Temp product launch and his effortless style from his California roots is aligned with our brand aesthetically.”

The personal connection with Love was brought to life last fall with the launch of the limited edition “BR/K.Love-18” collection, which included his tailored look, but also merged with outdoorsy aesthetics from his Oregon upbringing. On the company’s blog, The Republic, Love detailed in a Q&A what it was like to work with the design team to bring together the “timeless, athletic and rugged” collection.

“All of those categories really fit the nature of how I get dressed,” he says. “I wanted the collection to reflect all aspects of my personal style sensibility and have clothes that everyone can relate to, are staples, but can be mixed and matched to create something fresh and new.”

Beyond Love and Goff, Banana Republic has utilized its “Men’s Style Council,” a group of athletes organized to “showcase the brand’s versatility, quality and innovative performance-driven menswear collections” through campaigns and programs. The council includes Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius and Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum.

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“When we engage a partner, it’s not just athlete as model,” Alderete says. “We engage our elite athletes in a way that they contribute to the design and creative direction of our programs from a product collaboration with Kevin Love to a performance activation with Jared Goff that is aligned with his style of play and personal style. Our style council athletes are pulsed in our marketing mix as part of our culturally relevant intersections.

“The whole idea of having a ‘council’ of style ambassadors is that we can shine a spotlight on them individually or together at different points in our communications programming.”

While Love and Goff might be elite athletes, it doesn’t take those same abilities to dress like them.