Author Posts

Artisan’s Nightshirt

As advertised: “At the turn of the century, British artisans-the empire’s potters, silversmiths, cabinetmakers-wore shirts made of the thickest, plushest traditionally stripped cotton flannel, woven 29 inches wide; the fabric was doubled and the shirt sized by cutting a hole for the neck. The resulting garment was more like a cozy place to live than […]

Safari Dress

A Safari Dress was a staple of the women’s wardrobe for a long time. As you can see in the catalog gallery at the bottom of the page they switched from the fine Egyptian Cotton of the Safari Jackets to a slightly heavier “Naturalist’s cloth” later in the run. The photos on this page are […]

Safari Skirt

As advertised: “Patterned after a turn-of-the-century riding habit, our 100% Egyptian Cotton Safari Skirt is equally at home sidesaddle or astride (simply unbutton the front buttons for more legroom). Smoothly tapered over the hips, the skirt flares gently into a wide, mid-calf A line that’s ample yet not voluminous, a practical choice whether sitting or […]

Six-Gore Skirt

Spotted on eBay, this rare 1986 Cotton Twill and Leather Six-Gore Skirt. Six gore is a particular cut of skirt made up of triangular “gore” panels to form a A line.

Traveller’s Roll-Up Hat

The Traveller’s Roll Up Hat was a popular item featured from 1983-1987. The wool hat from England was designed to pop back into shape after being rolled up in a pocket or suitcase. It provides a no-fuss, classic look that truly evokes Banana Republic to me.

Gurkha Hat

A rare sighting on eBay was this stunning example of the Gurkha Hat. It seem like a perfect hat for the Banana Republic Travel and Safari Company to sell (especially with all the Gurkha Shorts they sold!) but surprisingly, this hat was only featured once, in the 1983 Holiday catalog. It has the same look […]

Mr. Brady’s Traveler’s Bag AKA The Gelderburn

I recently set out to understand the differences among popular leather and linen English bags Banana Republic produced: The Low Profile Bag, The Correspondent's Bag, Photojournalist Bag and Mr. Brady's Traveler's Bag. As is described in the Fall 1984 "Outfitters Who Outlasted the Empire" catalog the Zieglers contracted with many old English factories to produce [...]

Photojournalist’s Vest

The Photojournalist Vest was staple of Banana Republic until well-past the catalog era. What’s most surprising to me is that there were catalogs when it WASN’T included. (Spring-Fall 1986) It is ubiquitous on eBay to this day, as many were sold and they never wore out. Version One Version One of the vest debuted in […]

British Correspondent’s Bag and Photojournalist’s Bag

I recently set out to understand the differences among popular leather and linen English bags Banana Republic produced: The Low Profile Bag, The Correspondent’s Bag, Photojournalist Bag and Mr. Brady’s Traveler’s Bag. As is described in the Fall 1984 “Outfitters Who Outlasted the Empire” catalog the Zieglers contracted with many old English factories to produce […]

Apocryphal Affiliates Shirts

I love, love, LOVE the Apocryphal Affiliates Shirts. The series of 4 was only sold in the summer 1986 catalog, and advertised as being in limited quantities and very rarely show up on eBay. The team at BR must have had a ball inventing these fictional colonialist sporting clubs and creating logos for each of […]

Gurkha Shorts and Gurkha Pants

A follower on Facebook sent me these photos and I said, “Oh, yeah! I’ve been meaning to do a post about Gurkha Pants!” Well, the first thing I learned was they are NOT CALLED Gurkha Pants! They were sold as British Army Drill Trousers. They have the same cross over, built-in belt at the waist […]

“Safari” Shirt Guide

I’ve always had a hard time keeping these shirts straight in my mind, especially “Safari” vs “Expedition” so I created this guide as a cheat sheet. They all have different types and weights of fabric, but online pictures make it hard to tell. Pockets hold the most clues.

Bombay Shirt

The Bombay Shirt was available for a long time, from 1982-1988 in the catalogs that I know of. The distinctive light cotton shirt sports no less than seven pockets with buttons: Two on each sleeve and three on the chest. It came in a dizzying array of colors over the years, usually offered in the […]

Dinkum Aussie Football Blanket

Part of the Fall 1985 Australian Outback catalogue which included Australian football jerseys, Outback clothing and boomerangs, this Dinkum Aussie Football blanket is rare to see. Check out the April 2020 eBay auction.

Banana Republic Catalogue #12 1983

The timing of this catalogue is a bit of a mystery, because there was a Christmas gift catalog (AND UPDATE) at the end of 1982 AND a Spring 1983 Catalog. #13. So is #12 an additional holiday catalog?? Or another Spring Catalog? It simply doesn’t say. The content is similar, but changing, and the #12 […]

Franco Pants

The “Franco Pants” are one of the more memorable pieces of surplus for Banana Republic, first listed in 1983 and resurrected in 1985. The story told in the text is that the pants were designed by the Spanish dictator himself and the distinctive bullseye pattern stitched into the rear end was there so he could […]

True Surplus: RCAC Jacket

This is a nice piece of authentic military surplus that was not featured in the catalog, presumably due to more limited quantities. A beautiful wool with silk lining women’s uniform jacket from the RCAC-Royal Canadian Army Cadets, a youth ROTC-type program of the Canadian Army. Complete with price tag and “Discovered By Banana Republic” tag, […]

A Post about Posters

Sold in the 1984 catalogs, these posters showcasing catalogue covers are really wonderful collectibles that appear now and then on eBay. Advertised were catalogs 18, 19, 20 and 21, but I also came across one from catalog #22, presumably sold in stores.   My copy of the African Safari poster was signed by Patrica and […]

Elephant Bandanas

The set of Elephant Bandanas were sold in the summer of 1985 and are very fun to collect. BR did a number of bandanas and scarves, but these have the best pattern and use of the logo in my opinion. They came in two color sets–“African” (khaki brown, red earth, tan, and blue) and “Indian_ […]

It is the Banana Republic Shirt. Literally.

Always one of the most affordable and popular items in the catalog, it was easy to throw one in with any order.  The style (as evidenced by eBay listings) is classic “Henley” but they called it “The Banana Republic shirt” at the time. It was simply their Yukon Shirt in off-white with a logo on […]

Carry-On! Luggage

Recent auction for a Globetrotter bag caught my eye. I hadn't seen one in real life yet and really like the olive linen and leather look! A very nice stamped luggage tag. This line debuted in the Fall 1986 catalog and was highlighted in the "Carry On!" Fall update catalog. "Globetrotter" is a name used for [...]

1980 Fall/Winter and Gift Catalogues

This 1980 Fall/Winter catalogue features the first cover with a classic product still life scene. Patricia Gwilliam Ziegler spent a lot of time on this wonderful drawing of an African cabin filled with luggage and clothing, his and hers safari jackets hung upon the door and Mel’s typewriter in the corner next to a camera […]

1982 Sale Flier

I first saw this piece in an in-store framed picture and assumed it was a catalog cover like the other framed pictures in my collection. When I finally got to see the whole piece it was revealed that all of the product was only available in the Mill Valley or Polk Street stores and not […]

Wardrobing

Pages featuring posed clothing collections, called “Wardrobing” images. Featured in the front of the catalogs and usually built around the theme of the issue, they sparked the imagination both for fashion and travel. I always loved these well-dressed invisible couples and was gifted two colored pencil illustrations from the catalogs drawn by artists Nick Backes […]

Animals!

Banana Republic stores often had large fiberglass animals on display. I have been told they were produced by artisans that usually worked for the San Francisco Academy of Sciences, although the quality is a little less realistic. Presumably there are examples of this scattered across the country as store fixtures were sold off or carried […]

Catalog #4 1980

Enjoy! Another very early catalog that gives us a glimpse at the workings of a small but growing company called Banana Republic. My favorite pieces are the Banana Republic silk-screened logo t-shirts which are advertised as being yellow! I'd love to see one in person sometime, but it's doubtful many survived. Note also the All-Night [...]

Banana Republic Store Artifacts

Banana Republic stores were each lavishly decorated with authentic vintage items as well as custom made items that reflected colonial safari and travel themes. Each store famously had a surplus Army Willy Jeep in the window, and often large museum quality animals such as elephants. The shoplifting detectors were disguised in large tusks framing the […]

Women’s Touring Jacket

Such a classic look from BR, this women’s Touring Jacket paired with a matching long skirt, the fabulous money belt and the famous Traveling Boots. The jacket differs from the classic safari jacket in the lack of breast pockets and a more tailored, elegant look. A khaki twist on the Amelia Earhart style.

Store Photos

A collection of photos of Banana Republic Travel & Safari stores I’ve purchased online from news archives. See also the photos in the BR Guidebook and the links to news articles on the History Page.

Banana Republic Catalogue #3 1980 Winter/Spring (Tiger)

 The third catalogue features a very striking tiger drawing from Patrica Gwilliam and it showcases a growing company in the hands of two excited (and no doubt exhausted) entrepreneurs.  One of the items that jumped out at me is the Australian Bush Jacket, which I believe is the piece that inspired the entire business when [...]

Scarves and Bandanas

Banana Republic Safari Scarves and Bandanas: Featured Items Banana Republic Scarves and Bandanas Looking for a particular scarf or bandana? Scroll through all of the catalog pages!

Banana Republic Catalogue No. 2

The second BR Catalogue was produced for the Summer of 1979 and shows the new little company bursting at the seams with excitement and creativity. One of the first things that jumps out about this early catalogue is how graphic it is. The cover is bold, with  two contrasting colors and none of the drawings [...]

Minister of Finance Checkbook Cover

One of the surprises I came across in Catalogue #1 was the Minister of Finance Checkbook Cover, which is a concept that would be revisited in the 1985-87 catalogs and is one of my favorite accessories BR ever produced.  We don’t know what the original looked like exactly, though the drawing does tell us the […]

Banana Republic Catalogue #1 1979 Winter with Spring Update

 The first Banana Republic catalog is labeled Winter 1979 and would have come out at the same time or just after the Mill Valley store opened on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1978. Catalogue #1 sets the Banana Republic story in motion and begins crafting the legend immediately. There is an interior page that illustrates [...]

The Leather Walking Skirt

I’ve never owned a leather skirt. It seems like a serious commitment (but this one is going cheap if size 8 is your friend). The Leather Walking Skirt was offered in the Fall and Winter catalogs in both 1986 and 1987. It pairs well with the Amelia Earhart jacket, obviously. Throw in the leather flying […]

Leather and Linen Document Bag

The leather and linen look was so popular and with good reason. These Italian crafted bags are both stylish and utilitarian. The slim design of this cross body document bag was a perfect addition to the Travel and Safari line and was featured in catalogs in 1987 and 1988. 

The Ex-Hunting Bag

From Holiday 1986, the Ex-Hunting bag is a generous leather purse made in Italy, inspired a hunting bag found in Milan. Thanks to blog reader Lauren for sharing hers with us!  

Traveler’s Sport coat

Sporting eleven pockets in high quality Egyptian cotton this sport coat was designed to look good under any circumstances and carry just about everything you’d need to overthrow a small country. Current Ebay Auction

Women’s Leather Money Belt

This attractive and practical english leather wallet and keychain belt is so perfectly Banana Republic Travel and Safari I’m surprised it wasn’t a staple of the catalogs for years. Instead, as blog-reader Eli pointed out, this was only seen in late 1986 (Fall and Holiday Update). Note the classic BR logo stamp on the backside. […]

Door Handles That Never Forget

My favorite things to collect are actual pieces from Banana Republic stores. The most interesting piece I have literally opens the door to my collection. These tusk shaped door handles were taken from a BR store when they transitioned away from the safari theme. I attached them to an Ikea display cabinet that houses my catalogs, artwork […]

The Gamekeeper’s Bag

This remarkable photo was sent in by designer Louisa Voisine, who organized fashion shows in the mid-80s to promote BR to the entertainment industry at the Beverly Hills store, creating the BR Studio Services Department. The late model John Allen McClatchey III is posed with a Gamekeeper’s Bag. The Gamekeeper’s Bag is a jute mesh […]

Memos to Kevin re: Banana Republic

“Hi Abandoned Republic! I’ve the day off so wanted to get these treasures to you ASAP. They sort of tell a story of a starving artist (me) negotiating the perilous deep waters of the business world in the big city of  San Francisco during the early 80s. “ –Kevin From the archives of staff artist Kevin Sarkki we […]

Expedition Shirts

Keeping track of the various shirts BR made can be tricky. At first glance they often look the same. The key feature in the Expedition Shirt is the angled pocket flaps. These photos are from a May 2013 eBay listing.

The Pith Helmet

The Pith Helmet was a staple of Banana Republic from the very beginning. While it was likely a popular novelty buy, the BR helmets were authentic Indian imports. They were also something that people seem to hang hung onto, as they are surprisingly common on eBay, where you will see a few variations in interior […]

The Ventilated Shirt

  The BR Ventilated Shirt was originally manufactured for the British Army for use in tropical outposts. The cotton shirt is soft and light with an intricate weave to allow breathability. Introduced in 1984 it was sold in both short and long sleeves until 1988. Interestingly, the earliest long-sleeved “Authetic British” version was made in […]

The Naturalist’s Shirt

The Naturalist’s Shirt was a staple of the brand from 1983-1988 and is distinguished from other BR shirts by front pockets that do not have closure flaps. Most commonly, these shirts have smooth dark copper snaps rather than buttons. However, they did switch to buttons for a brief time in 1986, and then brought the […]

Banana Republic Catalog No. 34 Holiday 1987: Gift Workbook

The 1987 Holiday Catalog (No. 34) and it’s update was the last holiday catalog Banana Republic did. The cover illustration by Rob Stein (at this point a freelancer for BR) is a marvelous Trompe-l’œil  painting of the “Giftbook” with a handwritten shopping list and a pencil refracted through the shopper’s eyeglasses.

Banana Republic Catalog No. 30, Holiday 1986

Possibly the best of the Christmas covers, this amazing illustration by renowned Bay Area painter Chester Arnold captures the spirit of BR adventure and the joy of Christmas giving. A sleigh loaded with the colorful new BR gift boxes has just departed the BR North Pole Expedition camp and Santa has traded in his red and […]

Banana Republic Catalog No. 16 Holiday 1983

All aboard the Christmas train. This cover by Kevin Sarkki adds to the BR vehicle fleet. We’ve got Jeeps, Bi-planes, and now a Kenyan steam train festooned with Christmas decorations. Awesome. This is the last of the monotone catalogs. #17 would bring the full color treatment to the BR catalog as the new infusion of Gap […]

Banana Republic Catalog No.10 Holiday 1982

This is a rare treat. Mike Madrid generously sent me a copy of this catalog for the archive. I knew it would be duotone printed on newsprint paper, but I was really surprised that it was not trimmed like a standard BR catalog. It’s an inch taller than usual and the edges along the top […]

Banana Republic Catalog No. 38 Fall 1988: Rails to Trails

Fall 1988 was the last season for the Banana Republic catalog, and the update to  Catalog #38 would be the last Banana Republic catalog published. This is also the first catalog ever published with no mention of the founders of the company. Mel and Patricia Ziegler had resigned in the spring of 1988, this catalog […]

Banana Republic Catalog No. 33 Fall 1987

After hiking the Inca Trail in Fall 1986 we hit the Road to Mandalay for Fall 1987’s Catalog No. 33. This striking cover was done by BR staff artist An-Ching Chang. The travelogue from Mel and Patricia’s journey to Burma is a great read and reminds me of the Soviet Safari as they navigate past […]

Banana Republic Catalog #29 Fall 1986 The Inca Trail

Catalog 29, the Fall 1986 Catalog takes us On the Inca Trail with Mel and Patricia Ziegler. From start to finish, this a is a fantastic BR catalog, one of my personal favorites. The cover is a classic,  tightly rendered and harmonious in color and composition. The cover artists in uncredited, sadly, but our money […]

Banana Republic Catalog #25 Fall 1985

G’Day, mates, let’s get started on Catalog #25, Fall 1985’s “Notes from the Outback”….The cover artist is uncredited. Rob Stein is always a good guess, but this watercolor feels different to me. Hard to say. It’s a great piece and it almost looks like concept art for a store window display. Is there no location […]

The Bushman’s Raincoat

Introduced in the Fall 1985 “Notes from the Outback” catalog, the Bushman’s Raincoat is one of the more distinctive items BR produced. It’s about as dramatic and interesting as a raincoat gets and will make you look like you stepped right out of the 1982 Aussie film “Man From Snowy River” (my own mother’s favorite […]

Meeting the Founders of Banana Republic

Mel and Patricia Ziegler did a Wild Company book signing at Book Passage in San Francisco’s Ferry Building last night and I was in attendance in full BR regalia along with my very supportive friend Julie who insisted I say hello before their talk. I must admit I was a little nervous to introduce myself. […]

Banana Republic Catalog No. 15: Fall 1983

Page 2 and 3 of the Fall 83 catalog. The introduction is word for word the same as the message from the founders in later catalogs. The company has 4 stores now (there would be 95 in 5 years). These rare monotone catalogs are filled with items not seen in the more common catalogs, such […]

Banana Republic Summer 1988 No. 36: Trips Magazine

Here we come to the end of the Summer catalogs from Banana Republic, 1988’s No. 36. The catalog introduces Trips, the new travel magazine created by the Zieglers as a bold expansion of the Banana Republic world view. As was reported in this March 1988 article in the LA Times, the new venture was both a vehicle […]

Banana Republic Catalog #32, Summer 1987

We are now working our way through the Summer 1987 Catalog “Expatriates”. One of BR’s most memorable covers, this tightly rendered, delightful illustration by H. Craig Hannah, a Bay Area illustrator and a graduate of CCAC in Oakland.  Many of the figures are instantly recognizable–Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Pable Picasso and Josephine Baker. Livingstone the […]

Banana Republic Catalog # 28, Summer 1986: Voices From Africa

“Voices From Africa” presents Banana Republic at it’s height, in my opinion. The company is robustly expanding and catching on across the country and the world, and the artwork and product are top notch, but still funky and authentic. This catalog so perfectly sells you on the heart of the BR concept, exotic wanderlust, counterculture […]

Summer 1985 Catalog #24 and Update

There were TWO updates to the Summer 1985 Wanderlust catalog. The first featured a really fantastic pencil sketch  cover from staff artist Rob Stein. Emulating a well worn sketchbook the drawing is very solid and well composed. The painted dragonfly that has landed on the book doesn’t catch your eye until  second glance. It’s really […]

Lambskin Flight Helmet

This item is classic Banana Republic, it was featured in almost every catalog. Fairly impractical, it appeals purely to the eccentric, dress-up fantasy aspect of BR. How could you NOT want one and yet…how often would you actually wear it? A flight jacket yes, but the helmet and aviator scarf? Only on Halloween, right? No…not […]

True Surplus: Swedish Bandolier

A favorite item is the Authentic Swedish Bandolier. It’s unquestionably cool, stylish, and adventurous. Banana Republic was selling these “authentic relic” surplus bandoliers in their catalogs from Holiday 1984 until Fall 1985. The bandolier is a  Swedish Army Mauser ammunition bandolier. It’s very popular with Star Wars fans and cosplay enthusiasts because it was used as […]

Company is coming…Wild Company!

Got some amazing news this weekend in the form of a message posted to our Facebook wall: “Thank you Abandoned Republic for being keepers of the flame. Coming soon from Simon and Schuster and now available for pre-order at your local bookstore or on Amazon.com the long-awaited memoir from the founders of our long lost […]

Banana Republic Catalog No. 23, Summer 1985

The Wanderlust issue begins with  a fantastic illustration of the BR Air Corps on bivouac in North Africa. The bi-plane on one side, the company flag with a star on the flagpole…such a nice touch, why didn’t they sell flags along with aviator scarves and flight helmets?   There are many nods to civilized life….a […]

Bush Vest

The Hooded Bush Vest is one of the few items that was present pretty much all the way through the Banana Republic catalog run. It is featured in my earliest catalog, Holiday 1982, and probably dates back even earlier. It was in the final fall 1988 catalog and every catalog in between. The size of […]

Banana Repubic Catalog No. 19: African Safari

This is the earliest sumer catalog I have in my collection, I’m not even sure what Summer 83 looked like. This is the first of Mel and Patricia Ziegler’s many travelogues, the African Journal. The cover is her portrait of the two of them in full regalia at work in the African bush. As the […]

The Authentic Field Jacket

Maria, a fan of my Facebook page posted this picture yesterday to show off her 1980s Banana Republic jacket. It wasn’t one I immediately recognized. It’s not the Bush jacket, or the Correspondent’s jacket, and certainly isn’t a Safari jacket. But it had a BIG LABEL, so we know it’s an older piece. Obviously, it’s […]

Spring Update 1986: The History of Khaki

Banana Republic began issuing catalog updates in 1985. Each season had at least one, sometimes two. They are un-numbered. So Spring 1986 was #27, then it’s update was issued, then #28 Summer. The point of the update was to nudge the customer to make a purchase if they hadn’t already, to take a second look […]

Collections: My Dad and Banana Republic

I was first introduced to Banana Republic by my Dad, Roger, in 1984 or 85. He had been living in the Western Alaskan bush teaching school in Yupik eskimo villages since 1977 and returned to New Mexico for summer visits every year. I’m not sure, but I imagine he had some BR clothes shipped to […]

Weekend Dress

I was delighted when the WordPress robots told me about Cynthia Closkey’s recent post about the Banana Republic “Weekend Dress” that was inspired by my upload of the Soviet Safari Catalog. It’s humorously accurate…. “Banana Republic is nothing like this now, as we know. Now, it’s more like eternal casual Friday at a law firm.”) […]

#27 Spring 1986 The Soviet Safari

The Spring 1986 Catalog #27 brings us another travel journal from Banana Republic founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler, but instead of a journey to the deepest, darkest jungle or some sun-baked savannah  they take us to the heart of pre-Glasnost Russia. What a surprise this must have been to find in your mailbox. The cover […]

True Surplus: Italian Army Field Jacket

This recent eBay auction brought us a rare example of a true surplus item as sold in BR stores. This amazing Italian Army Field Jacket complete with authentic label dated 1976 (see gallery below) still has the price tag attached. I assumed the stars on the lapels are added by Banana Republic, it looks like […]

Banana Republic Catalog #21 Holiday 1984

Presented in it’s entirety, Catalog #21 the 1984 Christmas edition. I posted a page a day with a few comments for every page. This catalog seems to me to have the last vestiges of the original BR catalog, the next few years would bring a huge expansion of BR with bigger and more ambitious catalogs and […]

Regifting: 3 Christmas Catalog covers

  This is an interesting catalog cover because it was actually done THREE different times. The 1984 Holiday cover is a color version of the 1982 cover drawing. What’s really interesting is that the cover was repainted entirely for the 1986 Holiday Update! The 86 version is not the exact same drawing, but it’s a […]

An Amazing Vintage Banana Republic Collection

This catalog archive has definitely inspired me to start collecting vintage Banana Republic stuff, but it’s also put me in touch with other Banana Republic enthusiasts which has been a real treat. Vintage clothing collector JT shared his Banana Republic collection with us, stylishly displayed on a leather armchair straight from the Bengal Explorer’s Club […]

Early Surplus?

Check out this heavy wool shirt that came up on eBay. With the anchor buttons, and that GIANT BR tag, it looks like something from the early (pre 1984) catalogs, can never be sure…. True surplus, I don’t recall seeing it in later catalogs.  

Now Open in Birmingham (MI)

I added this catalog to my collection recently. I hadn’t seen it before, though after I bought it I saw it go for half the price and without the yellow banner. But the yellow banner is kind of cool. Obviously catalogs bound for a certain region had a special cover made to announce the opening […]