Autumn is a time for radical innovation and redesign, as depicted by the fashion industry's choice to place New York Fashion Week during the month of September. But couture labels aren't the only ones seeing revolutionary change for Fall 2014; a number of high street brands are reinventing their established images, and you may be surprised by the companies who are displaying drastically different wares for the upcoming season.
Millennials have proven that their consumer preferences vary greatly from generations past, and in fact lower priced brands are just as important to their wardrobes as covetable couture. Bearing this in mind, some of the industry's most familiar — and typecast — brands decided to spruce up their products. Gone are Kipling's monkey zippers and Banana Republic's predictable workwear, replaced by leather, suede, pops of pattern, and a surprising note of edginess. Best of all, it appears that fashion is finally willing to cater to women of all sizes instead of those who resemble clothing hangers.
Back to school clothes are just as relevant at 30 and 50 as they were at 15, so get your credit card ready to snap up the wares from these seven newly revamped brands.
Remember the monkey key chain-adorned, pink nylon Kipling backpack you adored in middle school? The brand still offers those, but it is also introducing their new "Always On Collection" for the busy, multitasking "girl on the go". The collection boasts soft leather, streamlined designs, and a sophisticated, understated color palette. It appears the brand has grown up into one both a working mother and her teenage daughter could appreciate. If you don't believe your eyes, check out Kipling's Forrest Coated Handbag, which could easily be mistaken for a Mulberry tote thanks to its creamy beige shade and trendy top handle design.
Yes, Coach is finally overhauling its image. Gone are the tween girl-driven, peony and rainbow-inspired goods in favor of a more bohemian, Jane Berkin-looking collection. From the brand's chocolate suede XL Soft Borough Bag to edgy, studded mini duffel bags, Coach has moved from the Upper East Side to Soho in terms of style.
3. BANANA REPUBLIC
With Marissa Webb at the wheel, Banana Republic isn't for customers who want a dry work wardrobe anymore. Its new collection is part collegiate, part menswear-inspired, and just a bit idiosyncratic. Just look at Webb's work for J. Crew to get a sense of the store's promising future.
It wasn't long ago that Milly was the type of sweet, lace-and-bows label that any true girly girl would flip for. Now, the French company is wowing consumers with graphic prints, leather skirts, and the chicest paper bag waisted pants I've ever seen. Milly's Diamond Striped Jacquard Mini Dress hints at the label's newly matured style.
5. HUDSON JEANS
Hudson Jeans recently made an announcement that they weren't going to rest on their laurels, and decided to make their message one of exuberance, individuality, and tangible ideals instead airbrushed models wearing scowling expressions. Their remodeled jeans are just as flattering and trendy as ever, but their ads will be populated by real people wearing jeans that flatter a range of diverse silhouettes.
Madewell never went through a particularly jejune phase, but the brand is now exhibiting an extra-smart fall collection. Its dresses range from Coachella-worthy to Mad Men-inspired; its booties rival Isabel Marant's; and the vast selection of denim is the best — and most fashionable — deal in town.
Pretty Little Liars vet Lucy Hale has designed two new collections for SoCal-centric Abercrombie offshoot Hollister. Dare I say the first is filled with pieces I would wear voluntarily? Several of the faded floral pieces and the grey Lacy Pullover both look like items a 20-something could actually wear.
Images: Kipling Forrest Coated Handbag, $78.99, kipling-usa.com; Coach The XL Soft Borough Bag in Suede, $1200, coach.com; Banana Republic Pleated Leather Skirt, $225, bananarepublic.gap.com; Milly Diamond Striped Jacquard Mini Dress, $525, neimanmarcus.com; Nico Mid-Rise Super Skinny Battleship, $176, hudsonjeans.com; Skyscape Dress in Diamond Floral, $155, madewell.com; Hollister + Lucy Hale Lacy Sweatshirt, $44.95, hollisterco.com