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

Banana Republic Catalog Fall 1988 Cover by John Mattos

Banana Republic Catalog Fall 1988 Update Cover by John Mattos

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 went to press son after they left. The transformation of BR’s identity begins in this last catalog. Much of the clothing is new, and leans toward a Ralph Lauren-ish Americana look. Old favorites such as the Bush Hat and the Paratrooper briefcase are shown but are marked down in red, something we never saw before in the catalog.

Something else we’ve never seen is a catalog focused on North America. It’s not a bad idea to do an issue about hiking and biking trails in the U.S. (the Rails to Trails Conservancy is still in operation. The introduction states that they had been approached by the group the previous year, so this issue must have had some input from the Zieglers at least in the initial planning stages) but the contrast from the previous fall’s trip to Burma really makes it clear that BR is leaving the exotic and quirky behind it. The size and shape of the catalog may be familiar, but everything about Banana Republic is about to change.

There is no notice inside that this is the last catalog. When the holiday catalogs start filling mailboxes in 1988 Banana fans will be perplexed, bereft, and feeling….ABANDONED.

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 based in Oakland, CA as a graphic designer and illustrator with Secret Fan Base . She's been collecting and archiving at Abandoned Republic since 2011.

1 Comment

  • Christy D on December 21, 2012

    I worked at the Banana Republic store in Chestnut Hill, PA in the spring of 1988, and we got a frantic call from HQ that Patricia wanted one of everything in this final collection. It was quite a while after the clothes had hit stores, so they had a heck of time finding everything. That was the last I heard of any interactions from the Zieglers.

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