Creating A Better Republic Together
At Banana Republic, they’re always working toward a better republic. That’s where people like Chris Lawrence come in. An advocate for change, he believes it is important that the Black community knows his company is dedicated to creating positive change.
Behind the Seams
As a Senior Copywriter, Chris writes a lot of what you read about Banana Republic’s products and their brand. “Writing, styling and thinking outside of the box always seem to come naturally to me,” says Chris, who continues to challenge himself to learn and level up. Writing is truly an extension of who he is. “Even when I’m not working per se, I’m always creating, always storytelling,” he adds.
Drawn to the arts and inspired by fashion influencers like Kerby of Pyer Moss and athletes like PJ Tucker, Chris understood the power of clothing very early on and knew he wanted to be a part of it. Before Banana Republic, Chris worked at Club Monaco and Saks Fifth Avenue, where he had the opportunity to learn about industry mechanics and how to inspire others through style. “What we wear is more than just labels. It’s an extension of who we are and how we present to the world,” says Chris.
After seeing the power of heels for women, the sneaker for men and the business suit for all, Chris found his North Star in menswear and giving men the tools to dress better. In his role as a writer and stylist, he has created a working relationship with his audience. He is their style guide, helping men achieve great looks now while empowering them to eventually style themselves.
When working for Saks Fifth Avenue, he created a campaign dedicated to the shoe-enthusiast called Here For The Shoes. “I knew how important footwear was to men and wanted to create something that felt relevant and spoke to the guy in his language,” says Chris. “There’s a notion that men don’t shop for themselves or they need to be told (what to buy) and I set out to prove that statement wrong.” Saks is still using this program today to speak to male shoppers.
At Banana Republic, their initiatives go way beyond fashion—and that’s something that Chris takes very seriously. “It’s not only about sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint, it’s about showing up in other ways and making sure people feel included,” he says. “When George Floyd passed, I found myself moved to speak about something more serious. I felt both obligated and empowered to help Banana Republic speak clearly and let our community know that what was happening in the Black community didn’t sit right with us and that we needed to be a part of the change.”
He has also recently joined the Color Proud Council, a group of employees who are overhauling the market by creating new merchandise through the lens of inclusion and diversity. It was along with the social team that he helped to create Amplify Black Voices. “It’s a place where we could turn the mic and our social platform over to the Black community,” says Chris. “We created a space for them to speak their mind and express their feelings.”
And his drive goes even deeper. He has been advocating for size inclusion since 2006 when he started his blog, FresherThanChris.com, which you can now view on Instagram @ FresherThanChris. He is giving voice to the growing need to work with more models who look like real people. For example, check out Soouizz, a menswear model and influencer recently featured in October on Banana Republic. “In the future, I hope to help folks see themselves reflected in the brands they already are invested in,” he adds. “I hope we have an ample amount of product for all sizes.”
Off the Rack
Fashion plays a unique role in our lives. Although Chris says, it might play the role. “There’s something to be said about putting on a suit that fits perfectly or a super-comfy sweater on a fall day,” he says. “Clothing is also armor. It gets you ready for the day and the world. And if you don’t believe me, put on a statement coat over sweats and watch how you take on the day differently.”
If you are feeling inspired by the way Chris has used his creativity and passion for fashion to fuel change, he has some advice for you: follow your own path and get involved in social activism at any level. “Begin small and be consistent,” says Chris. “Make a list of your goals and dreams and make sure you cross them off your list.” You may want to keep a list with you—let it empower and embolden you to stand with Chris and create a world you are excited to live in.
Follow @bananarepublic to see how they are always taking new steps toward a better republic.