Banana Republic Clothing Tag and Logo Guide

Banana Republic Clothing Tag and Logo Guide

We are doing a bit of archaeology with this blog, trying to help figure out where certain things fit in the BR timeline, which is especially useful when collecting BR. The biggest key to the puzzle is of course the label tag in the clothing itself. Here is the breakdown of BR labels as I understand them. Feel free to correct anything or add to the discussion if you can.

The Star and Bananas, AKA The Coat of Bananas is the most famous BR label, and is the label that was in use throughout the catalog era of Banana Republic. When I think vintage BR, it has this logo sewn into it.

bigvintagetag

The Evolution of the Banana Republic Logo and Masthead

Originally designed by Patricia Ziegler during the 1978-83 pre-Gap era, the Stars & Bananas was the logo for the company and the crest of arms for the mythical Banana Republic Armed Forces. Her original logo was hand-drawn and had a slight lopsidedness that added to it’s charm. It did not have a particular text treatment to accompany it, rather the “Banana Republic” masthead font varied in style from catalog to catalog.

1979 masthead with decorated font

1980 masthead with simple font

In 1983 San Francisco based designer Primo Angelli was hired to create the polished logo and masthead font that we remember from the golden age of BR. The star was crisply defined in a classic graphic style and the bananas were made more uniform. His distinctive text treatment was the branding that was used throughout the BR empire from catalogs to price tags to storefront signage.

Summer 1983 Catalog logo--an early draft of the new masthead?

In putting this post together I noticed something interesting. The Summer 1983 catalog (above) features the new Banana Republic font that would be used in the masthead of the catalogs going forward, but the stars and bananas is not quite the final version,…It’s tighter than Patricia Ziegler’s original, but clearly still hand drawn. I wonder if this is an earlier draft made during the design process….Catalog 16 Holiday 1983 (Below) marked the debut of the official Banana Republic logo and masthead.

Holiday 1983 Catalog logo--the first use of the redesigned masthead

However, this logo treatment did not extend to the clothing tags for some time. Well into the catalog era the clothing tags still had the distinctive green oval with red lettering surrounding the star and bananas. It is the same hand drawn symbol and funky, hand lettered logo. Note the star is solid and much smaller than the final Primo Angeli  logo.

Guide to Banana Republic clothing tags: The Coat of Bananas

From the 1982 holiday catalog, a camera ready look at the Coat of Bananas

The Big Tag:

Earliest examples, like this one from 1983 were somewhat larger than later versions. I call this the Big Tag. It measures 2 1/4″ x 1 5/8″, which is actually the same size as later Coat of Bananas tags, but the proportions of the design are the largest of all the variations of this tag.

brlabel1983

This Big Tag dates to a mid-1983 Bush Vest, from BR staff artist Kevin Sarkki's personal collection.

Standard Tag:

Although it also measures 2 1/4″ x 1 5/8″ the words on the Standard Tag are not as fat, and the green oval is a little smaller in size and brighter in color, and the bananas a little bigger. Overall,the letters are bigger and the details much crisper. There are certainly variations that occur in the embroidery process (see examples below), but the Big Tag seems to be clearly different.

br_classic_tag

A Standard Tag

Another variation of the Standard Tag from my own Bush Jacket.

 

The Small Tag

: The Mill Valley and California are moved to the sides of the logo in this tag which measures 1 3/4″ x 1″. The tag pictured here is from a Yukon shirt. The same tag is used in the Israeli Paratrooper Briefcase. It may be that this smaller tag is just what was used for shirts and the like, while the larger tag was for jackets.

Mill Valley and California move to the side in this 1 3/4 x 1" tag in a Yukon Shirt.

 

A reader pointed me to this Bombay Shirt Dress that has a most unusual tag. This uses the Primo Angelli typography and places it in a 6 sided diamond shape with 2 little black stars on either side. I’ve never seen this one before. It’s hard to place, but I’m guessing it’s fairly early in the post-Gap run when the typography came into existence mid-1983. While it is certainly possible that this could have come ANY time during the 1980s my hunch is that it’s some sort of early experiment after the new font had been created. The Bombay Shirt Dress goes back to at least Fall 1983 if not earlier and seems to have been discontinued by Fall 1985.

Let’s call it the….

The Diamond Tag

Thanks to Expeditions with Bamboo Dan for the pictures.

Siam Tag

And then there’s this incredibly odd piece of work. The full masthead logo with the fancy font WITH the Stars and Bananas. Purple green and red, with potted palms and the Kingdom of Siam boldy embroidered across the bottom.  I’ve looked for this particular shirt in the catalogs, but so far nothing, so it’s likely post-1988. Let me know if you have any other examples of this tag in your collection.

 

 

 

The Printed Tag:

Cheaper clothes, such as the t-shirts, had a screen printed tag rather than embroidered. It says made in USA.

br_tshirttag

The Safari & Travel Tag

Later in the run of the catalog era they switched to this embroidered text tag that has the Safari and Travel Clothing Co. in the rounded rectangle from the catalog logo. I don’t know why they didn’t also use the classic look for “Banana Republic “.  Presumably, this was cheaper than the green and gold label or perhaps they were looking to update their look and bring it closer to the rest of their branding.  In any case, this tag was from the catalog era, and survived for a few years beyond the end of the catalogs in 1988.  You see this label in clothes that were never sold in the catalog as well as in classic BR items.

br_travelsafaritag

 

The One Harrison Tag

These next two tags I am uncertain about. The “One Harrison” tag likely came first. It retains the Travel and Safari subheading. BR had moved it’s offices to One Harrison Street in San Francisco in the late 80’s. It’s doubtful that anything ordered from the catalog in, say, 1988, would have had this label in it.

br_oneharrisontag

The Adventure Globe Tag

The next tag represents a move to change the focus of BR to travel clothing, though it does retain mention of Safari. This is likely from the early 90s when BR still had a retro flair to their clothing and you would still find some items that were very similar to the classic BR stuff.

adventureoutfitters

From the same era, sans globe:

The Modern Tag

After that, BR tags seem to be purely text based. I’m sure there’s plenty of variation that obviously we won’t bother to document. You may run across BR clothing that looks similar to the classic stuff, but it’s from their “Heritage” collection and you’ll know it by it’s label.

br_modern

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Robyn Adams

15 Comments

  • Lizabeta on April 5, 2012

    I have actually been meaning to suggest that you put together a tag timeline, so this is great! There is another tag I’ve seen, but don’t know where it fits in the timeline. Check out this listing on ebay (last photo) – http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ladies-Banana-Republic-BOMBAY-SAFARI-DRESS-Size-6-Brit-Khaki-Vry-Gd-Cond-/260852505992?pt=US_CSA_WC_Dresses&hash=item3cbc055d88. Any ideas?

  • Scott on April 5, 2012

    Oh that is so interesting! Thanks, Liz! I’ll see if I can get a better pic of that and add it to the mix. That’s the Bombay Shirt Dress, and it dates back as early as 1983, but remained in production for years. No way to tell where this one falls in the timeline. We’ll have to keep an eye out for other examples and see if the tag is always the same. I’ve never seen that tag before. It could have been a short lived experiment, the “missing link” between the Coat of Bananas and the Safari and Travel tag. Who knows….Thanks!

  • Ken on July 2, 2012

    Hi,

    Do you know what the name of the font that was used in the 1983 masthead?

    Thanks,

    • Scott on July 6, 2012

      Hi Ken. It was a custom made font designed by Primo Angeli. I don’t know of a digital equivalent. I made my logo by cutting and pasting the BR logo.

  • Mindy on July 17, 2012

    Your compilation of BR stuff is great. I’ve been trying to place a year on a vintage BR hooded leather toggle coat. It’s very heavy and has the Adventure Outfitters globe logo. So I’m getting closer! I think it’s the only one left in the world! Keep doing what you’re doing. I love the vintage BR stuff.

  • Robert on September 22, 2013

    I found a BR leather coat/parka with attached hood. It has the Adventure Globe logo. I can find nothing about this coat even though I’ve been searching for four years! Have you seen anything resembling this? I’ll try to include a photo.

  • Mindy on December 27, 2013

    Robert: My research indicates that this coat is likely a GAP product of the early 1990s with the BR Adventure tag. This is probably one of the last products with BR graphics on the tags. All other BR tags after this were lettering only, and safari stuff was no longer in the BR lineup. But GAP did hang on to the travel concept in clothing for a short while longer. Mindy

  • Lu on November 8, 2014

    l found a German Army olive drab wool fatigue jacket without the BR label tag sewn inside. It does have a price tag attached to it that is similar to the one attached to the yellow Yukon shirt pictured above. Would it be safe to assume that this is an actual military surplus garment? I researched this website but I couldn’t find anything that matches it. The only label that is on the garment is sewn inside of a hidden chest pocket that reads VAL MEHLER A.G. followed by a series of numbers.

  • Wendy on July 23, 2015

    Lu: You may have the “Authentic NATO fatigue jacket,” featured on page 59 in the 1987 Holiday Gift Workbook (catalog no. 34). BR description, in part: “Made in West Germany of regulation wool flannel to which a little nylon’s been added for even better conduct, with two bellows chest pockets and an inside breast pocket.” (Yes, that’s a West German flag patch on the left sleeve, near the shoulder.) Indeed, it’s one of the surplus finds that BR was known for in the company’s glory days. Priced at just $15, this was an item even a college kid (me) could afford. A sturdy woolen jacket, unfortunately, isn’t the most practical garment for Southern California, so I stashed it away for a long while. Eventually gave it to my then-preteen son, who wore it for Halloween a few times; we donated it to the local thrift shop, so hopefully someone else is enjoying a bit of surplus history.

  • Wendy Joffe on August 9, 2016

    I just spotted this dress on eBay. Very curious label; I immediately wondered if this is one of those “bootleg” or “fake” BR items that customers were warned about in the catalogs (issues from 1986, maybe??). This appears to be the Bombay Shirt Dress, which we know was available from the early days and well into the 80s. Either this dress is a truly interesting find from the early 80s (maybe even ’78/’79??), or it’s a fake, manufactured in Mexico — as per the catalog’s warning.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/222213568731?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&fromMakeTrack=true

  • Bill Duncan on August 29, 2016

    I very luckily stumbled across your site somehow and very happy I did. I love it. I thought I was the only one looking to collect BR catalogues. Right now I only have the 6 I acquired back in 1987 and am constantly looking to add to my collection along with anything early BR. Got any suggestions other than eBay as to where I might find some?
    Keep up the good work.
    Bill

  • Sheila on October 17, 2016

    I question if the Bombay shirt dress is authentic BR also the Diamond tag garment is also questionable. I noticed both have an RN number(34216) that is different from the older and current BR clothing (54023) when you research the #34216 it lists
    RN Number: 34216
    Legal Name: INDIA GARMENTS INC
    Company Name: INDIA GARMENTS INC

    while #54023 lists
    RN Number: 54023
    Legal Name: THE GAP,INC.
    Company Name: THE GAP,INC.

    I believe the garments with the 34216 are copies of BR, and are not affiliated Banana Republic, or Gap Inc.

  • Sheila on November 13, 2016

    I just question the RN number on that garment. It’s for India Garments Inc. I was wondering why they would use a different clothing jobber. It could be they used this particular wholesaler because that style was owned by India Garments,and distributed the dress through their stores.

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