According to a series of national studies compiled by Banana Republic, 43 per cent of US females (45 million) fit today's definition of the petite woman - 5'4" and under (source: US Department of Health & Human Services, Study 1988-1994).

However, the actual number of petite women could potentially be much greater than this number, as many women over 5'4'' may also be considered petite, though they do not realize it. In response to these and other findings, Banana Republic introduced its Petites collection as an online exclusive beginning August 13, 2001.

The Banana Republic Petites collection offers a complete fashion assortment, including 36 styles. Key looks this season include the must-have blazer in a variety of luxury fabrications such as moleskin, tweed and leather, as well as wide-legged pants and tailored skirts.

"The facts speak for themselves,'' says Lesa Musatto, general manager, Banana Republic Online. "While we have always offered our customers alterations on every purchase, we hope that more and more women will be able to shop at Banana Republic and find a perfect fit right off the rack. The Petites collection offers a full fashion assortment for that vital niche in the woman's market."

Consumers can find all the Banana Republic Petite styles in a dedicated area within, where they can also access web tools, including "Are You Petite?," an area that helps consumers determine if they are petite on any part of their body and which petite size will fit them best. Also available is a comprehensive "Petite Fit Guide," that visually illustrates how differently regular sizes and petite sizes fit petite women.

Banana Republic has completely reproportioned its fit for petites and tested the line extensively with petite fit models. Petite apparel is now available in sizes 0-16, and in order to deliver the best experience for the customer and minimize the need for any alterations, petite pants will be available in two inseams - 26.5" and 28.5" (the industry standard for inseam length).