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Simon Kneen On The Truth Behind The Issa Collaboration

Image via <a href="http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/division.do?cid=5002&amp;mlink=5001,6879338,1&amp;clink=6879338">Banana Republic</a>
Image via Banana Republic

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There was hype. There was confusion. And now, we've got answers. Amidst all the commotion surrounding one of the most talked about collaborations of the (end of) summer, we went straight to the man behind it all, Banana Republic's creative director Simon Kneen, to clear the air and get all the details behind the brand's new summer-to-fall wardrobe.

First things first: All the hype around releasing that Kate Middleton-lookalike piece was purely fate. "I call it a bit of a kismet moment for us because when we were planning the collaboration, we had no idea of course that Kate was going to have a baby," said Kneen. "Whoever took care of that for us was just amazing."

This was Issa's first global collaboration, which was bound to present some challenges in terms of scaling the brand's aesthetic to fit Banana Republic's worldwide reach. According to Kneen, the hardest challenge was editing down the collection. "We landed very quickly that it was going to be a dress collection, because that is what they are famous for even though they have evolved their business into other things. So, it was really just focusing down on what were the right styles. [...] Otherwise, it could have ended up being a 200 piece collection in a heartbeat."

The styles that ended up striking a chord with both Issa and Banana Republic were the ones that spoke to the heritage of the Banana Republic brand. Influences of the Serengeti, African Prince, and other safari themes were pulled from the archives and reworked to fit Banana Republic's customer just the way she likes it—accessible and approachable. "Our customer really knows what they want from us and what they expect from us, so we really love to be the editors for them of what the trends are, what colors are changing," said Kneen. "But we know the things that they love and they get very upset if we don't give them more of the things that they love."

Dually noted. Here's hoping that the L'Wren Scott collaboration sees as much love as Issa has.—Erika Graham
· The Limited Edition Banana Republic Issa London Collection [Banana Republic]
· There Is Some Confusion Over The Banana Republic Version of Kate Middleton's Issa Dress [Racked]
· There Will Be Berets In L'Wren Scott's Banana Republic Collab [Racked]
· First Look: Banana Republic's Fall Fare Is For The Art Nerd [Racked]