About This Site
The goal of this blog is to create an easily browsable archive of vintage Banana Republic Catalogs for collectors and resellers, as well as to celebrate and document the history of Banana Republic of the 1980s. You can browse the catalogs individually, or browse by clothing type (Women’s shoes, Men’s Pants, etc). Hopefully this makes it easier to find the proper names of a garment and understand it’s place in the BR timeline. eBay sellers are encouraged to use the site to research items and are free to use catalog scans to illustrate this auctions. I have chosen not to watermark my images, but I would ask that you include a credit and link to the site and the Found It on Abandoned Republic badge.
My story is this: I loved Banana Republic clothes when I was a teenager. That made me a bit of an outsider among my peers, though my close friends (drama club dorks) shared the enthusiasm if not the wardrobe. I was never comfortable with teen fashion in the 80s, it all seemed pretty ridiculous to me. Of course, to a lot of other people dressing like a background extra from Raiders of the Lost Ark was pretty stupid too. Nonetheless, the aggressively retro style and pretensions of adventure and romance that Banana Republic traded in was right up my alley. I visited the BR store each time I left New Mexico for a larger city. San Francisco, Washington DC, New York and London stores all got a visit from me. I wish I had kept the clothes of course, but styles change and things get tossed.
I picked up my first catalog from my father, who actually WAS the adventure traveller I would never be. He lived in the Alaskan wilderness while I grew up in the suburbs of a New Mexico town. The illustrated Banana Republic catalog was particularly attractive to me as a young artist. So distinctive and beautifully rendered, I’m still kind of astonished they pulled it off as much as they did.
It’s been eating away at a little corner of my brain ever since, because what I am is a collector and amateur archivist. So when I came across a giant collection of catalogs on eBay I decided it was up to me to put an archive together.
For the record, I still shop at Banana Republic, I like their clothes and have no problem with them being a high-end GAP. My attitude is not “BR used to be great and now it sucks and it’s so generic and boring”. That may be true, I’m no fashion expert and don’t care to be. But clearly, classic BR was a product of it’s time and was bound to change into something else. It would have been nice if the Ziegler’s had been able to retain creative control and manage it’s evolution, but that’s corporate America for you.
If you are an artist or designer who worked for BR and would like to share your work and experiences with us please get it touch.