Charles Harbison Will Design a Sustainable Line for Banana Republic in Partnership With Harlem’s Fashion Row

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In early October, Harlem’s Fashion Row founder Brandice Daniel announced that she and her organization were teaming up with Banana Republic to launch a BIPOC-focused sustainable design competition. Today, they’re revealing the winner: New York–based architect turned fashion designer Charles Harbison. His women’s collection will debut in September 2021 and will be crafted using organic materials and natural dyes. The collaboration will also focus on limited water production throughout the design and manufacturing process. 

While many details surrounding the collection and what it will look like are still being kept under wraps, Harbison did share some insight into the aesthetics. “Banana Republic and I share sensibilities that are rooted in great American design, and I have a deeply rooted connection to the amazing equity work of Harlem’s Fashion Row. I wanted to fuse those ideas with a playful sense of color and line, which I’ve been navigating aesthetically as of late. It really felt organic. And always, all things lead back to my central inspiration: the women of my life.” 

Originally from North Carolina, Harbison launched his eponymous label in 2013. His clean, beautifully tailored ready-to-wear, which is meant to be somewhat gender-fluid, is architectural in shape and silhouette, thanks in large part to his former pursuits as an architect before attending Parsons School of Design. His clean, color-blocked dresses, suits, and outerwear have been worn by Beyoncé, Solange, and Michelle Obama. Harbison’s new project with Harlem’s Fashion Row and Banana Republic will be a seamless collaboration, because the partnership he says “feels authentic to me, to Banana Republic, and to Harlem’s Fashion Row. Authenticity is the goal.” 

The designer also notes that “over the past few months we’ve seen a number of big brands trying to find their place in the country’s conversation about racial justice and equity, and the efforts that have felt more authentic are those that leverage a brand’s existing strengths. Banana Republic has always been devoted to making great American fashion, and their partnership with HFR has provided a platform for me to further contribute to what ‘great American fashion’ means.”