The Revisit: Is There Anything Cute at the Banana Republic Factory Store?
The wave of off-price, outlet and factory stores coming to Philly seems to have, at least for now, subsided. In its wake is a string of stores that have either shined since opening day (see: Century 21, Bloomingdale’s Outlet, Primark) or faltered (Bloomingdale’s Outlet, Nordstrom Rack).
One of the best parts of my job is running around town and popping into stores to see how things are going, so I was more than happy to step out into the sunshine and head over to the Banana Republic Factory Store, which opened on Chestnut Street back in 2014. I set out to see if the store had gotten, well, any more organized since the last time we stopped in, and to check out the selection.
I was happy to see the outlet store has definitely stepped up its organization game. It’s still pretty much evenly divided between men’s and women’s, with the entire back section dedicated to petites (hurrah!).
Each rack has signage telling you how much you will save per item (most items I saw were 40 to 70 percent off retail), but you have to do the mental math yourself, since price tags are not adjusted — annoying.
I only saw a handful of items in women’s I might actually wear, like this (wrinkly) linen blazer ($43.99) and these silky culottes ($35.99). Banana Republic is generally thought of as a mecca for proper job-interview clothing. And you’ll find serviceable pieces like blazers and professional-looking dresses, but the quality is lackluster, and the styles feel dated – or, at the very least, boring.
Even still, I found the items to be overpriced given the flimsy quality, like this perforated polyester top (above left), originally $49.99, or this tissue-y black tank (above right), originally $39.99. Even at 50 percent off, it just isn’t worth it.
The award for best find in the women’s department goes to this navy blue dress ($32.99), the more feminine version of a power suit. And the worst of the women’s goes to the graphic tees ($14.99), which were both over-priced and weirdly off-brand.
The men’s section brims with smart workwear basics, like slim-fit pants, button-downs ($38.99), and a smattering of ties. Winners of this section include this wooly winter blazer ($101.99) and the entire casuals section (severely lacking in women’s) stocked with knits and hoodies your girlfriend will definitely try to steal.
Petites is stocked with pants to outfit the shorter gals and cute styles straight from women’s. You’ll also find a few styles unique to petites, like military-inspired jackets and a selection of cotton loungewear.
The verdict: The men’s and petites sections are the real stars, while the women’s selection is lacking.
The Details: 1911 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse. 215-563-4237.