Banana Republic creative director earns honorary degree from alma mater

NEW YORK — Simon Kneen, creative director and EVP design for Banana Republic has been awarded a Doctor of Arts honoris causa from Kingston University in London, United Kingdom. A Kingston University graduate, Kneen was nominated and awarded for his 30-year commitment and success in the fashion and design industry. 

Nominated by his former faculty and selected by the University's Honorary Awards Committee – consisting of 14 academic notables including the Vice and Deputy Vice Chancellors – Kneen will accept this award in front of hundreds of students and join a group of elite alumni honorees which includes Sir David Attenborough, naturalist and broadcaster; Paul Greengrass, journalist and Hollywood director; Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize winning author and Gail Emms, badminton Olympian.  

"I am really humbled to be extended this honor by Kingston University in the company of such accomplished award winners," says Kneen.  "I have been so fortunate to find a career that is my inherent passion, and to be awarded for it is truly an honor."

Kingston University confers awards to recognize distinguished contributions in professional fields, accepted by a select group of prominent individuals within an academic year.  Awards include honorary fellowships, extended to those who have made outstanding contributions to the University, in addition to honorary doctorates – that which will be awarded to Kneen – to those who have achieved international distinction in a variety of high-profile roles. 

With more than 30 years of experience in the apparel industry, Kneen has been at the forefront of the Banana Republic global design team since 2008 as creative director and EVP design. From 2003 to 2008, he served as creative design director for the Retail Brand Alliance, where he set the creative vision for the Brooks Brothers and Adrienne Vittadini brands, and was the first to design a fashion collection for men and women at Brooks Brothers. From 2001 to 2003, Kneen was creative director for Maska, the Italian fashion house known for its exclusive couture collection and fashionable ready-to-wear line. Prior to that, he was head designer, Pret-a Porter, for Maison Balmain.