Banana Republic Catalog #20 Fall 1984 and the Fall 1984 Update

Banana Republic Catalog #20 Fall 1984 and the Fall 1984 Update

Banana Republic Catalog 20 Fall 1984

This page has been updated since it was first posted.
The Fall 1984 Catalog seems like such an anomaly to me, mainly because I’m not used to seeing cartooning on the cover of the catalog (the artist in uncredited).  The map of the UK describes some of the sources the Zieglers used to create their early clothes as they tracked down manufacturers who had “outfitted the empire”–creator of clothing of exceptional quality for the British armed forces. Banana was by now well into it’s transition from a purveyor of retro-fitted surplus to a manufacturer of new clothing and their quest for specialized materials and makers continued to be fodder for their catalog content. This cover was also sold as a poster.

Banana Republic Catalog Autumn 1984 Cover by Rob Stein

The Fall Update has 8 more pages than #20. The notable NEW items are the Leather and Linen Document Bag, the Leather Artist and Writer’s Case and the Sahara Shirt which would be produced in a wide assortment of colors over the years.

The Update cover gives us what we expect from a classic BR image, a beautifully rendered still life of product in an African savannah, complete with a scarf-wearing Livingstone the zebra. This cover by Rob Stein looks to be an oil on canvas, a departure from the watercolors we usually see from him. I love the shadows on the hat and the jacket and the surprising mood of cloudy afternoon.

Initially, I thought the the Fall 1984 Update was a near-reprint of Fall 84 #20, and indeed, many of the pages are almost identical. It turned out however, that the Fall Update is almost entirely reprinted in the Holiday catalog #21. There are subtle but interesting differences between the two Fall catalogs, mostly along the lines of new artwork. We can see the earlier art style give way to the later style that I think is most iconic. A prime example for me is the new artwork for the Yukon shirt that appears in the Fall Update. This more precise high contrast illustration of the famous BR staple will be in use until the end of the catalog era.


Comparison of the new Yukon shirt illo from the Fall84 Update with the earlier version from Fall84 #20

The famous British Artisan Nightshirt makes it’s debut in Catalog #20 and would be very popular for years to come. The entry  also includes an interesting note omiited in the Update about finding the Bannerman Shirtworks of Scotland to produce these Empirically inspired shirts. The drawing of the long-sleeved ventilated shirt is also radically different from the Update’s entry (in the gallery below) which would also be changed the following summer.


There are a few other art changes to notice. In the gallery below I’ve scanned the entire Fall Update and then added the pages from Catalog #20 that are different or notable in any way. Some is pretty minor like the new background art on the flight helmet, mostly it’s new art for a piece of clothing.

One of the goals of this site is to break down these catalogs and understand the timeline of the product and the marketing that made made BR what we remember. Taken as a whole, the entire BR catalog can become a bit of a blur so I believe it’s helpful to sort it out and take the time to appreciate the nuances in each one of these marvelous books.

I feel like these Fall editions are showing us the missing links as the catalog evolves from it’s low budget hand-made origins to the sophisticated award-winning icon it became.

About The Author

Robyn Adams
Robyn's fascination with Banana Republic began in 1984 when her Alaskan adventurer father began buying the clothing and giving her the catalogs. She loved the clothes and as an artist she was drawn to the illustrations. She went on to study illustration at art college in BR's hometown of San Francisco and worked for years as a background artist for animation. She is now a designer and illustrator with her own business Secret Fan Base . She's been collecting and archiving at Abandoned Republic since 2011.


  • Doug on October 13, 2012

    Thanks again for taking the time to put this all together. What a treat! Looking forward to seeing the Fall 86 Inca Trail issue!!

  • Tad Marko on January 16, 2013

    I too miss the old Banana Republic. I used to shop at the Dallas Galleria location in the 80s. I still have a few things I bought there, including the Israeli Briefcase and a wool cape that always made me feel very 19th century London when I wore it. About once a year I email them and tell them their new format is junk and they need to go back to what it was or change the name. Obviously they don’t care, but it’s fun for five minutes.

    Lately, I’ve been reminiscing about the music they used to play there. Does anyone remember a few of the songs? I’m pretty sure it was mostly jazz or swing from the 40s, but I’m looking for a few song seeds to start a Pandora station.

    • Robyn on January 20, 2013

      That’s hilarious, the annual email to complain about the change. I doubt the person reading it even knows what you are talking about.

      About the songs, it was generally 40’s WWII era music. I believe they mention in their book Cole Porter tunes, but I can’t find the reference. That book needs an index.

  • Paul Demariano on February 7, 2013

    I agree with Doug. I was fond of the store and found real surplus gear such as leather, Swiss army ammo pouches and similar items as well as their original apprentice bags in the store at “Jacksonville (Florida) Landings” in the mid ’80’s. The shirts were made in Hong Kong and were as good as anything I found anywhere. When it was bought by the Gap it all came to a screeching halt. The selection of itms and the quality of the stock changed to the point it was a lost cause, as far as I am concerned. Too bad…great concept.

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