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Tuesday
Mar312015

Will the next generation of clothes be able to think for us?

The self-tracking trend exploded with wearable gadgets and accessories, beginning with smartphones and wristbands that track and measure users' data, including the number of steps taken and quality of sleep. The next generation, smart garments, are going to make those accessories seem rudimentary, at best.

Worn right against the skin, smart garments can more accurately measure our vitals, monitor health conditions, protect us from environmental hazards and possibly even prevent illness.

“A smart garment can support, protect and in some cases measure, predict and channel communication to and from the garment wearer from anywhere at any time," says Karen Stewart Brown, the co-founder and designer of clothing brand Stewart+Brown. A former senior designer at Patagonia and J. Crew, she is the co-founder of FUTUREADi® — a next-generation creative agency focused on engineering sustainable solutions for complex design problems.

“We are only seeing the early stages of what's to come," she adds. “Smart garments will do things like aid in gene therapy and be further combined with tissue culture methods to develop fast-growing and naturally laminated substitutes for human skin."

Eventually, Stewart Brown thinks we may have temperature sensors embedded just beneath the skin's surface. Using data collected from the body's surface, garments will be able to regulate body temperature — warming and cooling us when needed.

"Wearers will be alerted when exposed to high levels of ultraviolet rays, ionizing radiation, or the presence of strong magnetic fields, thus preventing damage to the skin or malfunction of medical devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps," she predicts.

Clothing has always been a means of protecting the human body, but these technological advances take that protection to a whole new level.

Stewart Brown believes wearable technology will become so integrated into our lives that we won't even be aware of it. We can put away smartphones and other devices, but smart clothing is literally a second skin, becoming part of us and influencing our decision-making.

“From a kinda-creepy point of view, smart garments will have the ability to 'think' for us," Stewart Brown says. “Ultimately, we may start losing our ability to sense our needs, trust our instincts and use our intuition."

There are also privacy concerns. There is currently no regulation protecting personal data collected by wearables.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York calls this a "privacy nightmare." He has urged the Federal Trade Commission to push developers to provide a "clear and obvious opportunity to 'opt out'" for consumers. This would prevent personal health data from being sold to third parties who could potentially use such sensitive, private information to discriminate against users.

Figuring out how to address these concerns with wearable technology will be an integral part of the innovation process.

Stewart Brown says there is no doubt that smart garments and wearable tech will be practical, but advises that we mix our excitement with a bit of caution and adopt this new technology in moderation. Maybe your shirt just doesn't need to know everything about you.

Tuesday
Mar312015

Spring into denim

There are so many trends happening in denim right now, it's hard to keep up - but you can. We asked designers, merchants and stylists from all five of our brands for their thoughts on the latest denim trends for spring. (Don't worry, we threw in a bonus tip, just in case you need some denim disruption.) And, if you need a little extra styling help, one of our favorite bloggers, Damsel in Dior, brought all of these trends to life on her blog.

Check out all the denim styles we're loving for spring, worn by Damsel in Dior:

Banana Republic


“Women's BR premium denim comes in a range of classic fits and some great new fashion styles for Spring and Summer. We love our skinny fit and the new bell bottoms worn with heels back to the longer boyfriend blazer. The distressed boyfriend silhouette and the new articulated gaucho looks great also pared with a heel and a shrunken sweater or cropped jacket. The washing and distressing techniques on our premium denim are individually done by hand to give that perfectly authentic “worn in" look and feel." — Melloney Birkett, VP of Women's Design at Banana Republic

Banana Republic Indigo Skinny Jean, $89.50

Old Navy

“The Boyfriend trend is all about the 'borrowed from the boys' sensibility, and Old Navy will be offering this relaxed fit in a full-length jean as well as in shorts. Boyfriend is also super versatile; it can be paired with a front-tucked top and sandals or sneaks for a casual look, or can be worn with heels for a dressier vibe." — Lauren Armbruster, Sr. Merchant of Women's Bottoms and Denim

Old Navy Boyfriend Skinny Ankle Jeans, $25.00

Intermix


“High-rise jeans (especially in white) will be a go-to for this spring and summer. We love pairing this style of denim with crop tops and lightweight sweaters." — Morgan Lacey, Merchandise Assistant of Denim, Outerwear and Lounge

FRAME Le High Flare, $210

Gap


“Before resolution denim technology, the right fit by body type was key. But now with the movement and flexibility that the resolution denim provides, more fits work on each basic body type … so explore fits that you might typically avoid in the new resolution denim. I always say, rise is essential — if the rise sits in a flattering place, you are well on your way to a fit that is right for you." — Larissa Noble, Women's Design Director, Denim 1969, Gap

Gap 1969 destructed resolution true skinny jeans, $69.95

Athleta


"Athleta is all about versatility! After all, what's better than pairing our ultra-comfy, chic tights with the rest of your wardrobe? Transitioning is easy: Go from barre to brunch by layering your favorite chambray shirt over your Athleta Metro Legging. Add some black booties, your favorite jacket and a statement bracelet for a look that has instant hangout appeal." — Amber Hendrix, Athleta's Senior Stylist

Athleta Gel Chaturanga Capri, $64.00

Monday
Mar302015

Calling On Retailers to Raise Their Voices Against Discrimination

Editor's Note: The following is a joint blog post from Art Peck, Gap Inc. CEO and Chip Bergh, Levi Strauss & Co. CEO.

Today Gap Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. are calling on retail and apparel companies, and other businesses, to join us in speaking out against legalized discrimination.

Both of our companies have a long history of standing up for equal rights and equal opportunity for all.  We have consistently spoken out against discrimination and unequal treatment based on race, sex or sexual orientation.  

As Indiana, Arkansas, and states around the country enact and consider legislation that perpetuates discrimination, we’re urging State Legislatures to stand up for equality by repealing and voting against these discriminatory laws.

These new laws and legislation, that allow people and businesses to deny service to people based on their sexual orientation, turn back the clock on equality and foster a culture of intolerance.

Discriminatory laws are unquestionably bad for business, but more importantly, they are fundamentally wrong. They must be stopped.

At Gap Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co., we are proud to say we are open to business for everyone. 

Monday
Mar302015

Banana Republic's New York flagship is a curated canvas

Housed within an early-1900s-era, two-story Beaux Arts-style structure typical of New York, Banana Republic's newest flagship provides a kind of canvas designed to make its product pop.

Based on the “lab" concept devised by Creative Director Marissa Webb, the new 27,892-square-foot store is meant to reflect a creative environment that allows the brand's personality to shine through artwork, handwritten inspirational quotes and the use of the space itself.

While Marissa came into the project after its initial construction, she was very hands-on in its evolution. As she told Fashionista, “I want shoppers to think it's an intimate, comfortable space for them to shop — I don't want them to feel like they're walking into a huge corporation or a mall space."

The store was properly feted with a VIP grand opening event last week, hosted by Marissa, actress Jamie Chung, and Refinery 29's Editor-In-Chief Christene Barberich. Attendees were treated to a live performance by Tove Lo and a DJ set by May Kwok.

In addition to the brand's usual women's, men's and accessories collections, select product exclusive to the New York flagship also includes:

  • limited-edition specialty items such as hand-painted designs created by the Banana Republic design team featured on select denim, sneakers and notebooks;
  • exclusive edition of 105 candles, totes and tees, each featuring the 105 Fifth Ave. logo;
  • a curated selection of America products from the likes of Basil Racuk (handbags), Baxter of California (candles), Grain Design (home décor) and jewelry from Brooklyn-based Odette, among others.

All items were curated by Marissa herself, while the recent opening was timed with the delivery of her debut summer collection.

“Banana Republic has always been a lifestyle brand, and this new store experience helps bring our journey to life," Marissa said. “I love that we were able to infuse the new Flagship with our personality, some unique Banana Republic product as well as a few of my favorite brands to help tell our story. We want this space to feel both inspiring and inviting — as if a friend has invited you to shop with them."

(Photo credits: David Prutting x BFA)

Thursday
Mar262015

The Banana Republic collection you need to see

It's here: Banana Republic's spring/summer collection. Hitting stores today, it is the first directed in full by Creative Director Marissa Webb.

The collection, inspired in part by the brand's explorer roots, features flares and fringes in women's pants, purses and more. Men will find the next evolution of Banana Republic's popular jogger pant, among other high/low offerings.

See some of our favorite looks below. As always, you can experience all of the new products on BananaRepublic.com.