Banana Republic vs Calvin Klein: Brand Comparison

The major difference is that the Calvin Klein brand is known for its minimalist approach to making youthful silhouettes while the Banana Republic, on the other hand, is a premier clothing brand that sells apparel, accessories, and high-quality jeans to young professionals. 

While the Calvin Klein brand was a women’s store selling coats and suits,  Banana Republic, on the other hand, was a specialty store selling safari vintage-themed clothings.

The Value of Fashion Brands
The Value of Fashion Brands

So, both brands are popular American retail clothing companies that produce a range of male and female collectives. But they are very much different when it comes to styling, fashion quality, luxury, and a lot more which you will get to discover from this guide.

Why this comparison?

This comparison between these two clothing brands will help you understand why there’s a difference in their pricing, sizing, denim quality, management, and a lot more.

While the Banana Republic is known for its unique way of tailoring white-collar outfits in a more fashionable way. They are mostly loved by workers because of their durability and affordability.

Calvin Klein represents the casual-chic style of dressing that keeps to the trend of every season. They are quite affordable and of high quality despite being a fast-fashion brand.

History of Banana Republic Brand

Banana Republic is a California-based clothing chain founded by Mel and Patricia Ziegler in 1978 before it was later acquired by Gap Inc. in 1983. The brand originally was an epitome of safari and travel clothing before it later transitioned into a global lifestyle brand.

The brand was known for its versatile collection of uniquely curated clothing items, and accessories like khaki trousers, ghurka shorts, paratrooper bags, madras shirts, and the popular photojournalist’s vests.

After its acquisition by Gap Inc. in 1983, the brand focus became broader rather than being streamlined only to the safari vintage style of clothing and this helped the Banana Republic as a whole new brand reach out to several other raving customers around the globe.

Although the new management curated safari-themed clothings called the Heritage Collection, which is now selling as one of their luxurious clothing items.

So, currently, Banana Republic is a modern luxurious retailer that focuses more on selling an array of athletics, fragrances, accessories, footwear, and apparel for both men and women. In addition, they also manufacture baby wear and even home accessories.

History of Calvin Klein Brand

Calvin Klein brand is an American fashion spotlight brand that is hinged on making highly-fashionable pieces that are provocative and appeal to the senses.

The brand is known to employ seductive aesthetics to market its brand and it worked pushing them to the forefront of American fashion.

Founded in 1968 by Calvin Klein and his business partner Barry Schwartz, they made only women’s apparel but by 1973, American leisurewear was born as the brand transitioned from making coats to tailoring a new style of affordable sportswear, which was known as “The Calvin Klein Look”.

Another pace-setting example this brand launched, would be when guys became attracted to the relaxed, and masculine look of Klein’s apparel because it was in tune with when bodybuilding was trending in America at that time.

Generally, the brand represents chic, simple, and minimalistic designs which they employ in making their coats, jackets, underwear and other apparel continue to be a source of admiration.

Their clothings are environmentally friendly featuring the use of wool, leather, and other exotic animal hairs to craft out their work of fashion.

The brand offers a range of puffers, bombers, and other outerwear, alongside accessories such as hats, scarves, and gloves. But later on, the brand opened a clothing line called CK, selling affordable handbags, sunglasses, watches, and more.

Banana Republic vs Calvin Klein: Head-to-Head Comparison

Brand popularity

If we are to compare the popularity of these two brands, it would be unfair not to mention the number of stores and the unique ways each brand has implemented in standing out as an American clothing brand.

While the Banana Republic brand as of 2011, had about 682 franchised stores operating across 32 countries and shipped to 21 countries through the company-owned websites.

However, the Calvin Klein brand in 2019, had over 10, 000 stores distributed in 110 countries selling their highly demanded items.

For example, what started out as a controversy in 1982, when the Calvin Klein logo was embedded on the waistband of their men’s underwear turned out to become one of the world’s most renowned and luxurious underwear making the brand’s continuous fame spread among men of all age groups.

Although both Banana Republic and Calvin Klein brands are decently priced, the latter seems to strike a chord amongst the mass.

So, when it comes to brand popularity, the Calvin Klein brand has it.

Luxury

For any brand to be termed luxurious, then two things are to be considered. First is, the high level of exclusivity, meaning that such a brand does not produce its clothing items for the masses but only for a set of people because of its expensive price range.

And this is not always the case with either of the brands as they both sell items that are affordable except in some cases though.

Secondly, is the scarcity level which allows sale only for a certain period of the year and this is another factor that luxurious brands employ to market their brand.

And the Calvin Klein and Banana Republic brands employ such tactics while marketing their designer clothing line.

Both brands are designer and luxury. brands with some level of exclusivity and scarcity but this only applies to a category of their clothing line and not all.

So, it’s a DRAW.

Management

The management here describes how each brand builds its image, sources its raw materials, and merchandise all its clothing items to the consumers.

Currently, the Calvin Klein brand is said to have a high management system that is structured to keep the brand’s image untinted since they are a fast-fashion brand.

There are a lot of examples to back up this brand but a very example would be the numerous rejected commercial TV ads they ran which spiked controversy amongst the public about the brand.

But all went in favor of the brand, as it is one of their winning marketing tactics, which is the use of sensual images to sell their underwear and jeans.

The Banana Republic as a fashion brand had a major issue which was not prioritizing inventory control and management, thus it was impossible for them to always meet their customer demand, at low prices, so orders were abruptly delayed for weeks, and even months.

But currently, the brand is set on revamping its image by slowly switching to what the consumers want.

So, when it comes to management, the Calvin Klein brand has it.

Culture

While this is a very important factor for any fast-paced fashion brand to employ, a lag could lead to a brand crisis, as it influences not only the design but also the fabric selection. And this ultimately creates a strong perception both locally and globally of such a brand.

Calvin Klein, owned by Phillips Van Heusen Group which is based in Manhattan, New York targets the wealthy middle class because its products are exclusive works from top designers.

The brand seems to align well with a certain culture of making minimalist silhouettes that resonates well with celebrities. And with this in mind, their designers create accessories and clothing in line with Calvin Klein’s brand culture, making them globally recognized.

Banana Republic’s held a strong local identity around California back in 1978 but the brand’s overall culture could be described as vintage and safari themed reflecting the initial style of the two Californian founders, but currently, it is owned by Gap.

And the culture existing is geared towards making apparel that is both adventurous and similar to the white-collar type of clothing e.g. office wear such as shirt and tie.

So, both brands have it.

Style

Every brand has its own style and this has helped to differentiate numerous fashion brands. And style describes how a fashion brand replicates one piece of apparel in terms of color theme, stitch, or fabric in other pieces.

So, that it can eventually make a worthy wardrobe collection that actually meets an individual interest and standard of dressing.

Often the Calvin Klein brand curates designer items that look functional and fashionable and this includes a combination of streetwear and runway attires.

The choice of style this brand infuses is crisp chic lines and clean and neutral colors that exemplify comfort and fashion.

Banana Republic brand style, represents the spirit of adventure that inspires one to dress as one going on a timeless trip. The company incorporates fantasy and imaginative art on their apparel, allowing you full freedom without the need to switch between outfits.

Both brands convey unique fashion styles that stand the trends of modern fashion, so both brands have it.

It’s a DRAW.

Work environment

The work environment in Calvin Klein is said to be very collaborative right from the management team down to the production team.

The brand is known to promote a diverse workspace that supports the creative thinking and personal development of all its workers or employees.

Countless employees have testified that the company organizes several coaching and mentoring programs for its members. And this has helped maintain not only the image but also the standard and work ethics of the brand.

Working in the Banana Republic brand is always linked to working with several down-to-earth, and welcoming personalities, which is a great approach to learning how to manage different life situations.

Another benefit, the employees get is the 50% discount on shopping any of GAP apparel, which includes Banana Republic.         

So, when it comes to the work environment, it’s a DRAW.

Fashion quality

Although both brands differ in the aspect of contemporary fashion, they have been manufacturing apparel for decades both for men and women in the best fashionable way possible.

While the Calvin Klein label makes stylish, ready-to-wear chic-styled apparel, especially for the rich, the Banana Republic, transforms the white-collar style of clothing into something vintage, especially for professionals.

So, both brands have it, when it comes to fashion quality.

Sizing

Another basis of comparison is the sizing, which differs according to both brands. Calvin Klein clothings neither run big nor small because they are tailored and featured by several models with average-fitting body sizes.

Also, because they are a fast-fashion brand, supplying even on-demand, so that’s why they tend to stay true to size most of the time.

However, it’s entirely different with the Banana Republic as they always stock up in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 28 to 44 with inseam lengths from 28 to 34.

Although, this is a good thing because it is rare to find other boutique brands stocking up in a massive selection of sizes.

As a result, they are inconsistent in sizing online and it would be better if you shop in person to get your correct size and fit.

So, when it comes to sizing, the Calvin Klein brand has it.

Final verdict – which brand is better?

Just as there are several fashion brands selling and curating the best possible silhouettes for their customers, both brands are hitting the mark in the clothing industry in a much different way.

I think I would visit the Banana Republic brand more because of the availability of nicely curated work outfits for professionals like me, but apart from that, both brands produce luxury apparels that are worth splurging on for the good days when cash spills over.

However, the Calvin Klein brand is best if you want ready-to-go outfits which are best for occasions because of the chic style and high quality.

So, the ball is in your court as you now have a streamlined view of what the Calvin Klein and Banana Republic brands portray whenever you need a wardrobe upgrade.

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