August 11, 2022

Advertising: Banana Republic Reaches Back to the ’60s for That ‘Mad Men’ Look

The Banana Republic unit of Gap Inc., which has teamed up previously with “Mad Men” for marketing promotions, is doing so again this summer with what will be their most extensive joint effort to date. The centerpiece of the new promotion is a collection of men’s and women’s fashions, to be sold in Banana Republic stores and online, based on how the characters on “Mad Men” look.

There will be 65 items in the so-called capsule collection, which are to carry co-branded labels bearing the logos of “Mad Men” and Banana Republic. The merchandise is to be priced the same as similar regular items sold in Banana Republic stores and on

The clothing and accessories like suits, dresses, ties, sweaters, hats, skirts, coats and blouses are influenced by “Mad Men,” which takes place in the 1960s. But they are intended to reflect the sensibilities — and the fit requirements — of contemporary shoppers.

The “Mad Men” collection is to come out in August, when the AMC cable channel was expected to be presenting episodes of the show’s fifth season. (The first four seasons made their debuts from summer 2007 through summer 2010.) However, a dispute between AMC and Matthew Weiner, the creator of the series, has delayed Season 5 until early 2012.


Executives of Banana Republic and Janie Bryant — the Emmy Award-winning costume designer of “Mad Men,” who is working with them on the merchandise — said they did not believe the absence of the series from TV would damp interest in the collection.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” said Jack Calhoun, president of Banana Republic, because “ ‘Mad Men’ continues to be relevant whether it’s on the air or not.”

Ms. Bryant said she was “getting messages on Facebook and Twitter that say, ‘We’re so excited about Season 5, but we’re watching all the seasons before Season 5 again.’ ”

Until the show returns, “they can get their fix with the clothing,” she added, laughing.

Brooks Brothers has sold a suit inspired by “Mad Men,” which was designed by Ms. Bryant. She collaborated last fall with Nailtini on four nail polishes with “Mad Men” monikers like Bourbon Satin.

Both Bloomingdale’s and Banana Republic have featured “Mad Men” in their store windows. Banana Republic has also offered customers style guides to dressing like “Mad Men” characters, a series of online video clips titled “Mad About Style” and contests to win walk-on parts on the series.


“Mad Men” mania does not seem to be played out, even after four years, said Tom Julian, a brand consultant and style expert who is the president of the Tom Julian Group.

“At the consumer level, it still has a lot of legs,” Mr. Julian said. “People know what you mean when you say ‘the “Mad Men” look’: a two-button, trim suit, a crisp shirt and a pocket square, the mod look of the ’60s.”

For Banana Republic to use the promotion to persuade “men and women to get dressed up for the fall is very easy to imagine,” he added.

The collection was the brainchild of Ms. Bryant and Simon Kneen, creative director at Banana Republic, who collaborated on the retailer’s previous promotions with the series.

“It wasn’t planned at all,” Mr. Kneen said, but grew from the fact “we got on so well.”

“We’d talk for hours about white shirts,” he added.

Ms. Bryant said she and Mr. Kneen worked on the collection for the last year, adding: “A lot of the pieces I brought to Simon and the design team were pieces from the show, some I designed, some vintage. A dress my grandmother made is an inspiration for a beautiful, beautiful dress.”

Ms. Bryant and Mr. Kneen will return for another round of “Mad About Style” webisodes, which will be on the Banana Republic Facebook page, at, and a section of the AMC Web site, at

The collection will be promoted in print, outdoor and online advertising; through direct mail; in stores; and through social media. For instance, fans of Banana Republic on Facebook are to get early access to a presale of the collection on Aug. 10, a day before it is scheduled to be available in stores and on the Banana Republic Web site.

There are also plans to repeat the contest to win a walk-on role on “Mad Men,” co-sponsored by Banana Republic and AMC. Information will be provided at


In addition to inspiring shoppers and retailers, “Mad Men” is being credited with giving two networks ideas for series for the 2011-12 season that are set in the ’60s. One, “Pan Am,” will be on ABC, and the other, “The Playboy Club,” on NBC.

Would Banana Republic consider offering clothing based on either or both?

Although a ’60s vibe is “in the air,” Mr. Calhoun said, he wondered if those newcomers would be “too much of a clone,” noting that the Playboy Club in New York City figured in the plot of the fourth season of “Mad Men.”

“Another tie-in would have to be a perfect fit,” he added. “ ‘Mad Men’ was a perfect fit.”

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