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Banana Republic Creates 'Startup Guy' Look

Banana Republic Creates 'Startup Guy' Look
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Banana Republic, a subsidiary of Gap (NYSE: GPS), sent out an email last month with a look labeled as the “Startup Guy.”

The outfit in question features a half-tucked button down, rolled-up khakis and (what appear to be) suede Oxford-style shoes.

It's part of Banana Republic's new styling guide to help busy male professionals create stylish outfits without having to spend too much time or energy, Banana Republic spokesperson Liz Nunan told Benzinga.

“We want our men’s shoppers to look at us as a resources for easy styling so they can get back to work, all while looking great,” Nunan said.

Ahead Of The Trend

Banana Republic is smart to approach this demographic early in the game, image advisor and men's style coach Alice Kim told Benzinga. She's noticed a developing shift in the fashion wants of entrepreneurial men, who are looking to “graduate” from the typical hoodie-and-jeans look that is associated with startup guys.

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“They want their look to be smart enough to be taken seriously for business, but in ways that show personality and creativity that sets them far apart from the typical cubicle drone,” said Kim.

Fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen told Benzinga that Banana Republic's startup guy look will add a physical element of allure or “beauty,” to compliment the entrepreneur's brains.

“Oftentimes, when we see the startup guy, we think ‘brains, no beauty,’” she said. “Beauty not in the sense of attractiveness versus unattractiveness, but in the sense of retail appeal.”

Why It Might Not Work

While the “corporate” and “creative” guys also targeted by the email might be interested in Banana Republic's fashion line, it might not be a startup worker's cup of tea.

For Jeff Kear, entrepreneur and founder of Planning Pod, his first reaction to the clothing line was short and less than enthusiastic. Kear said he doesn't like people telling him what to wear in the same way he doesn't like being told how to run his business.

“People who work at startups do so because they want to do things differently and break new ground,” he said. “Hence, we have a propensity to also wear non-traditional workplace garb, which explains the popularity of hoodies, designer T-shirts and jeans and skate culture brands.”

Susan Baroncini-Moe is an entrepreneur and founder of Business in Blue Jeans. She told Benzinga that no startup guy she knows wears clothes like the ones Banana Republic is offering.

“In fact, most of the startup men and women I know are professionals who are frankly far more focused on the excitement and stress of the startup process than on what they’re wearing,” she said.

Baroncini-Moe said that the dress attire for any startup worker really depends on their agenda for the day.

“Sometimes you wear jeans. Sometimes you wear a suit. Often, you wear Converse sneakers,” she said. “You wear what you have to wear today to fit the meeting you have.”

Banana Republic's marketing message may come off as somewhat nebulous, brand marketing manager and founder Matthew Reischer said, because there really is no single “startup guy” look.

“Being an entrepreneur fashion-wise spans the minimalist look of Steve Jobs to the dapperness of Elon Musk to the no-frills hoodies of Mark Zuckerberg,” said Reischer.

Check out the "startup guy" look here:

Posted-In: Alice Kim Banana Republic comments Dawnn Karen fashionEntrepreneurship Retail Sales General Best of Benzinga


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