When Banana Republic released their exclusive Issa collection, we were a little excited. In fact, we may have shown up at the mall as soon as it opened to get our hands on the limited edition styles.
When we finally did get our hands on the coveted wrap dress, we were surprised with what we felt. Rather than a silk jersey fabric, we felt a Rayon blend. For $130, it was a cute dress, but while one of our friends said they expected more from a high-end retailer like Issa, another questioned – what did we expect for such a great price?
The BRxIssa dress is really cute. In fact, we are already planning all the places to wear it. But we decided to get down on a deeper level and compare the two wrap dresses. What does $130 buy you, versus $600? The answer: A true lesson in quality versus value. We consulted with Glosse Girl Ashley, who can be found on Instagram showing off her Issa dresses and LK Bennett shoes. Ashley compared her Issa wrap dress versus her BRxIssa wrap dress, all the way down to the stitching and we made some interesting discoveries.
Sizing: Ashley usually wears a US size 2 or 4, depending on the cut of the item. Based on reviews, she ordered her first Issa dress in a UK10/US6, but after assessing the fit she ordered a second dress in a UK8/US4. Both dresses are beautiful and incredibly flattering, despite the difference in size. Ashley then ordered the BRxIssa dress in a size small, which would suit a size 4/6 in Banana Republic sizes. However, Banana Republic sizes run very large. Ashley would have needed a size XS to get the fit she was hoping for. Verdict: Issa looks good in both sizes, BRxIssa doesn’t.
Fabric: Ashley’s Issa dresses are both 100% silk and have a “lovely drape and luster to the jersey fabric.” The BRxIssa dress is 50% Rayon, 26% Lyocell, 19% Cotton and 5% Spandex. The fabric is soft, but the quality is questionable. It might only last a few washes. Verdict: You get what you pay for.
Manufacturing: The Issa dress tags say “Designed in London, Made in China.” The BRxIssa dresses are made in Indonesia. Verdict: Jury is confused by this one…
Cleaning instructions: Both dresses require dry cleaning. Verdict: Caring for your clothing is important, so follow the instructions – although we were surprised we had to dry clean the BRxIssa dress.
Ashley shared her overall feelings on the difference between Issa and BRxIssa, including stitching, fit, and overall quality:
The photos I believe will speak louder than words on this subject but here were the big differences for me: the back rear horizontal seam on the originals sits much lower (21.5″ from the neck) and is more flattering than the shorter seam on the BR version (17.5″ from the neck). The Tall BR version is roughly 40″ while the original Issa dresses are both roughly 42″. The front pleats that begin at the waist are much tighter and more prominent on the Issa dresses though that may be a characteristic of the silk jersey fabric. The under bust design behind the wrap fabric on the BR version is shaped like a half moon while the originals are horizontal across. The sleeves on the originals are much tighter (and are full length sleeves, not 3/4 length). As a pet owner,the silk jersey on the originals does a beautiful job of repelling pet hair while the BR version seems to attract pet hair. While they all were a little wrinkly (my steamer broke this morning!), the BR version was certainly more so though it was just shipped in a box. The Issa dresses are cool and slinky to the touch while the BR version feels thicker and rougher (though still soft!). Another difference is that the over-bust fabrics appears to be more modest on the BR version, coming together higher on my chest than the originals.
Overall, the BRxIssa dress is a FANTASTIC repliKate – but it just isn’t the same thing.. It is an adorable dress for the price. Kate has been known to wear high street styles, including Banana Republic, and loves a great deal. We love our BRxIssa dresses, but there is something to be said for quality versus value. $600 buys you a 100% silk, high quality Issa dress while $130 buys you a Rayon blend, adorable Issa dress. Quality doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and value doesn’t have to be a mess – but when it comes to quality versus value, which do you want?