Greg Lauren Explains His Banana Republic Collection's Silver Lake Swag

Banana Republic - Split - H - 2016
Courtesy of Banana Republic

New York staples with an L.A. twist.

Greg Lauren, the L.A.-based menswear designer, artist and former actor known for his artfully-tattered style, and Banana Republic, the chain retailer which has — like many mall staples —  faced hardship in the last few years, have joined forces on a collection available Dec. 6. It's the Gap-owned brand's second designer collaboration in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. (The first was in spring 2016 with Timo Weiland.) 

Notable for his deconstructed silhouettes and unfinished details, Lauren has been one of the key L.A.-based creatives establishing the SoCal fashion scene as a relaxed foil to New York's more structured, sharp style of dressing. With his 16-piece limited-edition capsule collection with Banana Republic ($178-$3,000), Lauren (who is the nephew of 7th Avenue titan Ralph Lauren, and is married to the actress Elizabeth Berkley) brings the Silver Lake-ready California causal vibe to the retailer known for its more tailored staples. 

"Working with Greg for this project was a true collaboration," said Michael Anderson, Banana Republic's senior vice president of design. "We both learned a lot and worked outside our norms to create something very collaborative and unique."

Pret-a-Reporter caught up with Lauren to talk about the "swag" of the collection and the L.A. fashion scene on the best coast.

Pret-a-Reporter: What was your inspiration for this collection?
When I first met with Michael Anderson and the Banana Republic design team, we thought about what you would take on a small trip and built the collection around effortlessly cool layering pieces.

The entire collection is a combination of utilitarian mixed with American sportswear, and we worked hard to strike that balance of artisanal and approachable. These are not runway pieces, but are unexpected essentials. The pieces are a little more adventurous and have a little more swag than what you would traditionally see, like the twill tuxedo.

How did you reconcile your edgier aesthetic with Banana Republic’s more tailored look?
With this collection, we worked hard to marry approach, quality and production, and stay true to the artistic ideal while creating accessibility for a larger audience. You will find those small details like hand-nicked fabrics, hand-sewn patches and specialty stitching that make a piece feel really special even if produced on a larger scale. The piece that epitomizes the approach most is the stone-washed twill tux. I'm used to taking a more artistic and ironic approach to classics, but for this capsule, I wanted to use a fabric that Banana Republic has a tremendous history with and elevate it while still keeping it wearable for a guy who wants something a little different, without going too far. It’s relaxed, but has attitude.

Favorite pieces?
My favorite pieces are the two "Oliver" jackets. They are based off of a signature silhouette from my collection and I'm proud of how we translated what is a challenging piece to sew for this capsule. Both versions of the jacket, The Donegal Tweed and The 50/50 look, are unique with a washed, rumpled feel, keeping the product true to its identity. We used a beautiful charcoal herringbone tweed with a pigment-dyed canvas with grommets to make this piece feel special but still very accessible.

Does the L.A. lifestyle (people, places, the industry etc.) influence your designs?
I've been in L.A. for a long time and it is where I found my "voice," first as an artist, and now as a designer. There is a spirit here that no other place has, and it is a creative one where rules do not apply. If you can imagine it, you can make it real.

Design-wise, my life here directly affects my work. I'm a born and bred New Yorker happily living and working here in LA. I spend time in Hollywood, at the beach and downtown, and that mix, which epitomizes L.A., finds its way into my designs.

Thoughts on the L.A. fashion scene and its recent growth?
The world does not need more clothing. What the world needs is originality, unique ideas and fresh approaches. There is always room for ideas that alter the way we think about things. Right now, L.A. is that place, where there is not a singular movement, but a singular spirit and energy towards doing things differently and changing the mold. It couldn't be more different from New York in that respect.