Christopher & Banks
In 1956, Gil Braun opened his first Braun's Fashions location in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The store's goal was to appeal to local women with stylish clothes they would love (at prices they could afford). Over the next few decades, Braun's expanded--locally at first, and then across the Midwest. By 1986, there were more than 100 stores in 11 states, and Gil Braun sold the company to Pennwood Capital Corporation. Under new ownership, Braun's shifted its focus a bit to specifically target career-minded women. A few financial missteps saw the business falter briefly, but it eventually recovered and went public in 1992.
Though the chain had grown to more than 200 stores by the mid-'90s, it declared bankruptcy in 1996 for restructuring. Stores were scaled back, and management was shuffled until it got back on track. By the year 2000, the company was officially profitable once more and it underwent a name change to Christopher & Banks (the moniker of one of its most popular private brands). Suddenly, the company started topping lists of the most successful small businesses in America, and quick growth started up again. Today, Christopher & Banks operates more than 500 stores nationally and is one of the leading retailers for women over 40.
Christopher & Banks specifically skews toward a slightly older demographic, which helps define its product line. Garments are divided into one of three size categories: missy (4-16), petite (4P-16P), and women (14W-32W). Within these classifications, you'll find an array of traditional apparel. Tops include t-shirts, graphic tees, tanks, tunics, blouses, popovers, v-necks, camis, shells, and more. The brand also makes an assortment of sweaters, cardigans, and jackets for varying levels of cold weather.
In bottoms, you can choose among lots of pants designed for wearing to work. Options include trousers, chinos, pull-on pants, twill pants, ponte pants, and more. Jeans are also available in fits that are designed to flatter, including classic, modern, moderately curvy, and straight. Capris, shorts, and skorts can all be worn in warmer weather, and they feature different types of material. Christopher & Banks has a relatively limited selection of dresses, but it does offer skirts in maxi and midi lengths--including many floral skirts for spring and summer wear. In intimates, you can find sleepwear, bras, panties, and shapewear. The brand's accessories are designed to put the perfect finishing touch on your outfit, and they include jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, and more.
One reason why Braun's faced so many difficulties toward the end of the 20th century was that it struggled to create a niche for itself. Christopher & Banks, on the other hand, has been very clear about its mission statement all along. Its designers seek to ensure that women have more options when it comes to upscale apparel for business and other semi-formal occasions. In coming up with this motto, the brand has also admitted that it can't appeal to all demographics. Executives know that mothers and daughters won't be shopping at the same store, and they are okay with that. By focusing on its mature customers, Christopher & Banks can specifically hone in on demand and provide a solution, which is why we give the brand 4.5 stars out of 5.
Christopher & BanksAbout
- Established 1956
- Business apparel for mature women
- Sold at:
- Christopher & Banks stores and online
- Types of items:
- Blouses, tees, tanks, sleeveless tops, tunics, popovers, trousers, ponte pants, pull-on pants, cardigans, sweaters, jackets, jeans, capris, shorts, skirts, dresses, intimates, shoes, accessories
- Related brands:
- CJ Banks