Banana Republic Doesn't Have A Creative Director Anymore, Just Like Gap

Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images.
After a year and a half as creative director and executive vice president at Banana Republic, Marissa Webb is stepping down from the role. She isn't leaving the company entirely: She'll be a creative advisor for the brand, and Banana Republic's parent company, Gap Inc., will keep its minority investment in Webb's own eponymous line, which she's shown at New York Fashion Week since 2013. Webb's new advisor role "affords her more time to focus on her private label," according to a Banana Republic representative.

Interestingly, Banana Republic won't be replacing Webb, who joined the company from J.Crew. "With a strong design team in place, Banana Republic will not fill the open creative director role at this time," a brand representative told Refinery29. In lieu of a creative director helming the design process, the brand's management team wanted a "more collaborative approach, similar to how other Gap Inc. divisions operate", according to WWD.

Gap ousted its creative director of three years, Rebekka Bay, in January (she's since landed at Everlane). Meanwhile, Old Navy's design team has been headed up by its executive vice president of product, Jill Stanton, since 2012; she was Nike's former head of apparel. But while Gap has had a rough couple of months — lagging sales, store closures, and employee layoffs — Old Navy has been doing really well. This isn't solely due to a creative director, or lack thereof. (Old Navy's recent successes are largely attributed to its global president, Stefan Larsson, who left the brand less than two weeks ago to become CEO at Ralph Lauren.)

Is a single design honcho unnecessary or impractical at mass brands like Gap — and even its higher-end sister brand, Banana Republic? Customers count on Gap to stock all their favorite basics and know Banana has their business-casual needs covered, so for either of those stores getting too directional or weird (or just different) can mean alienated customers and slumped sales. And perhaps even having a relatively known industry name spearhead design is risky for a brand that's better off not taking too many risks.

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