Skip to main content

Meet Up Monday: Michael Anderson, SVP of Design, Banana Republic

As head of men’s and women’s design for retail chain Banana Republic, Michael Anderson is clearly a busy guy. He’s been with the company, which began as an independent boutique near San Francisco in 1978 as a supplier of expedition and safari apparel, for 11 years and he oversees a New York-based 19-person menswear design team. Anderson recently chatted with me about Banana Republic’s latest–and, as usual, extremely varied–men’s offerings, which range in price from $19.50 for accessories to $450 for suiting and outerwear and are sold online at and in the store’s more than 700 brick-and-mortar locations worldwide.

What are some of the key men’s pieces currently in-store and what makes them special?

August is all about movement and utility as we transition into fall. I’m currently loving our new Custom Wash shirt, which is actually washed for more than 70 minutes to make it super soft and it comes in a wide range of colors, making it extraordinarily versatile. I think our Aiden Slim jogger pants are another fall must-have; the jogger is no longer just a trend, but has truly become a wardrobe staple taking you from work, to the airport, to brunch—perfect for life on the go.

How would you describe the overall aesthetic of the Banana Republic brand?

Banana Republic provides versatile wardrobe essentials grounded in the DNA and heritage of the brand, but updated to complement our customer’s 360 lifestyle. We’re taking a thoughtful approach to design, creating favorites that can work for multiple occasions.

What were the key inspirations for the current collection?

This season, we drew inspiration from our trip to New Scandinavia–Stockholm, Amsterdam, Antwerp and Copenhagen. We absolutely fell in love with the region and were most inspired by each city’s cultural, design and architectural histories.

What are some of your favorite fabrics to use?

I love that our jogger pant utilizes wools and cottons in both knit and woven fabrics—it’s a great alternative to either a chino or five-pocket denim, dressed up with a slim blazer or down with a denim jacket.

The Banana Republic offering is quite wide–from casual to suiting–how do you keep it consistent or do you find that your casual customers are different from those who buy suits?

I think our customers love to mix it up and pair tailored suiting pieces with more casual items. For example, wearing a sharp blazer with a slim fit shirt and relaxed denim or chinos is perfect for our guy who’s looking for that effortlessly cool look. We’re focused on offering versatility and a wear-now sensibility wherever possible.

What are some of the key trends in the current collection?

Utility and surplus styles are part of our heritage and we’re leaning into it a big way this season. Our trip to Scandinavia inspired us to work with a range of autumnal colors like olive greens and new gingers and design them into standout pieces like military style outerwear and utilitarian satchels.

What are the biggest challenges of designing for the brand?

We’re always pushing ourselves to innovate and combine things you might not traditionally put together in a way that doesn’t feel contrived. It’s always about the details.

What are some of your current bestsellers and why do you think they are so popular?

Our new Fulton skinny chino has been a huge hit with the guys. It’s comfortable, super slimming and flattering and comes in a great range of colors.

What is your all-time favorite piece you have created for Banana Republic?

Very hard to just pick one, but our new washed leather Moto styles are a favorite, also the half canvas construction Monogram suiting is amazing, with Italian fabric and a slim fit.

What other designers do you admire and why?

I don’t really have a favorite. I’m really inspired by good vintage product, particularly military where every detail had reason for being. I love the absolute functionality point of view; this is something we are striving for in both our men’s and women’s businesses.

What do you think is the current state of menswear?

This is a particularly exciting time for the menswear industry across the board. With the introduction of a dedicated Men’s Fashion Week and the rise of male bloggers, guys are paying more attention than ever to styling and fashion choices. Men aren’t dressing for just one occasion, like work, anymore–they realize the importance of having a more versatile, personalized wardrobe.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Blomquist
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Christopher is a native New Yorker who lives and works (mostly) in Manhattan. A longtime fashion journalist, he served as…
Watches in this Jack Daniel’s collection feature the brand’s wooden barrels
Want a whiskey barrel watch face?
Original Grain Jack Daniel's watch collection in case

The best things in life tend to combine multiple passions, so if your favorite Tennessee whiskey is Jack Daniel’s and you love stylish wristwear, then your time may have come. The legendary bourbon distillery has partnered with watchmaker Original Grain to produce a series of timepieces celebrating its heritage and brand. The collection in question has been aptly named The Original Grain x Jack Daniel’s watch collection.

All of the watches come with a very unique twist. Wood from the barrels Jack Daniel’s uses to mature its famous spirit is used in their manufacture. Alongside the bourbon-stained American oak, you may also see some charcoal and limestone. The charcoal is a reference to the filtering process Jack Daniel’s goes through during its mellowing phase, and the limestone is a nod toward the Cave Spring Hollow. That’s where the water used to make the whiskey is sourced.

Read more
Orange watches: Our top picks from Richard Mille, TAG Heuer, and more
Our top picks for orange watches for men
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5 Automatic promo shot

Like a ripe Valencia orange, bursting with juice and color and plucked off the tree at the perfect time, orange watches for men will zest up your wristwear game. In a sea of monochrome monotony, where the average watch is usually blue or black with a stainless steel bracelet, orange watches will certainly have you standing out.

Orange is not only a great way to add a pop of color to your wardrobe, but the color has major significance and use. No, we're not talking traffic cones, Halloween pumpkins, and other unsightly things that famously use the color. It's also seen in a Tuscan sunset, used as a way to see better in the depths of the ocean, or sometimes aids as a symbol of an organization or good cause like environmental conservation.
Orange watches for men: Our top 5 picks

Read more
If you’re a fan of cycling, then you’ll love this new Tudor watch
Tudor releases watch to commemorate Giro d'Italia
Pelagos FXD Chrono Tudor Pro Cycling Team Edition on wrist

On May 4, the Giro d'Italia kicked off, with cyclists embarking on a challenging (a simple word for the mind-boggling, grueling race) journey that spans 3,400 kilometers across 21 stages. It started in Venaria Reale and will conclude on May 26 in the land of pasta and pizza, Rome. The Giro d'Italia has an incredibly long history dating all the way back to 1909, but this year promises an entirely modern update with the addition of the Tudor Pro Cycling Team. Naturally, the Tudor watches has introduced a new timepiece to commemorate what is their first Grand Tour.

The Pelagos FXD Chrono Tudor Pro Cycling Team Edition, a watch so sturdy it can certainly handle the long name, might look familiar to fans of the brand, as it looks just like the Tudor Pelagos FXD Chronograph Alinghi Red Bull edition from last year. However, as is true of the brand, this Tudor watch embraces some technical specifications that make it perfect for the sport it represents.
The Pelagos FXD Chrono Tudor Pro Cycling Team Edition

Read more