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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 helpful when collecting BR. A great clue to the puzzle is the label or tag in the clothing itself. Here is the breakdown of BR labels as I understand them.

The Star and Bananas, AKA The Coat of Bananas AKA the Mill Valley tag is the label that was in use during the safari catalog era of Banana Republic. It was in use PRIOR to the 1983 GAP purchase–at least as early as 1982 if not earlier–and continued through the end of 1988 at least, possibly into 1989.

There are three major variations on this label: Early, Mid-Early, and Mid-Late.

1982-1984 Early Mill Valley Label

From the 1982 catalog, one of the first looks at the Coat of Bananas, used on a Yukon Shirt.

This label is verified to be found on items created before and after the mid-1983 GAP purchase. Designed by Patricia Ziegler, it has a light, funky quality to the typography and the green of the coat of Bananas is a bright, pure green. The bananas fill the interior oval and have rounded points. Mill Valley is on the left side, California on the right, divided by the bottom of the oval. Note the wide amount of space between the words. It is the largest label, measuring 6cm wide.

An early pair of Gurkha Shorts
1982 Bush Shirt

Mid-Early Mill Valley Tag (1984-86)

This is guesswork on my part, but it seems that this tag comes between the Early Label and the Mid-Late Label, but there is some crossover. Also, I notice this one a lot on leather goods. It is slightly smaller (5cm across vs 6cm). It has the same bright green as the Early label but the text is a little tighter, the letters have more pronounced serifs (the blocks on the tops and bottom of strokes. The bananas have sharp points.

From a Leather Flight Jacket (1985-86)
From a 1986 Leather Walking Skirt

Mid-Late Mill Valley Labels (1985-1989)

After the Early Large Label there are a variety of Mill Valley labels. The serif text is thicker and has less variety, the green has a yellowish tint and there is often a slight iridescent quality to it. In many cases the bananas are sharp and pointy and do not fill the oval. Sometimes these have a “squashed” quality to them. It averages a little over 5cm wide.

From a 1985 Outback Bush Jacket
A later Hooded Bush Vest

Diamond Label circa 1983-85 (India)

This label is rare. It has been found on early Bombay Shirts, Bombay Shirt Dresses, Jumpsuit and Ventilated T-shirts and comes from India (possibly the same factory?). I date it to 1983 because it uses the Primo Angeli typography that was designed when the GAP took over in mid-1983. 1985 is a guess based on a dated price tag on a Bombay Shirt.

If this price tag is to be believed the Diamond label was available as late as 1985.

Mill Valley Shirt Labels

These smaller labels measure 1 3/4″ x 1″ and are seen in may different shirts and other garments. They have Mill Valley and California vertically aligned along each side of the logo. There is some variation in them. They usually have pretty fat bananas, but some have sharp points, other rounded. The color can vary from bright green to yellow-green. The text can be either serif or sans-serif.

Top example from a Bombay Shirt: Sans-Serif text, sharp point bananas, yellow-green color. Bottom example from a Bombay shirt: Greener color, serif font, rounded end bananas.

Small Label

Usually seen on scarves and bandanas, this label doesn’t say Mill Valley.

Printed Labels

Inexpensive shirts like the Old English Wildlife Engraving T-Shirts or Diplomatic T-Shirts have a printed Coat of Bananas label that says Made in the USA.

Stacked Logo Label

The printed Stacked Logo label appears on the Banana Republic Shirt among other items.

Stacked Logo

Zimbabwe Label (1988-89?)

This label is found in some Gurkha Shorts, possibly from the late 1988-89 timeframe (the 1989 catalogue says made in Zimbabwe).

Siam Label (1987)

Seen on Houndstooth Shirts from 1987

Post-Safari-Era Labels (1989 and beyond)

The Coat of Bananas did appear on some clothes that we know were made after 1988, the end of the Ziegler Safari Era. See Transitional Pieces for more.

After the departure of the Zieglers and the end of the safari catalogs Banana Republic Travel & Safari Co. remained the name of the company.

Safari & Travel Label

The first label in the new regime is the Safari & Travel Label, which inverts the official name of Travel & Safari. This dates to 1989.

A transitional piece with a new label and old price tag.

Civilian Reserve

Judging by the price tag with the old logo on it, the “Banana Republic Civilian Reserve” line was made sometime around 1989-90.

LATER Labels

The rest of this guide is by no means exhaustive or complete. I’m not able or interested in documenting the twists and turns of the BR brand after the Zieglers left, but I present a few of these with my best guess about timing. 

The One Harrison Label

These next two tags I am uncertain about. The “One Harrison” label likely came first. It retains the Travel and Safari subheading. BR had moved its offices to One Harrison Street in San Francisco in the late 80’s. It’s doubtful that anything ordered from the catalog in, say, 1988-89, would have had this label in it.

br_oneharrisontag
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 its label.

br_modern

Above is printed tag in a reproduction Old English shirt made by modern BR. Date uncertain, circa 2015?

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.

22 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?

  • Robyn 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,

    • Robyn 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.

  • shan on May 4, 2017

    It is SO hard to find information regarding previous brand labels for most brands, so thank you for this!! I recently found a cotton, made in Italy scarf/bandana with the star and bananas logo and wasn’t entirely confident as to when it might be from. Now I have a much better idea. Thank you!!

  • Jason on October 20, 2018

    I have an olive drab, long sleeve button down cotton shirt w/epaulettes, bearing the “Safari & Travel tag”. I still wear it often, and it is one of the best quality casual shirts I’ve ever owned. My wife laughs when I call it ‘timeless fashion’ but I don’t care– it’s so damn comfortable and not showing any signs of wear & tear. Still suitable for a casual night out.

  • Elizabeth on June 27, 2019

    I just thrifted a pair of shorts with the Zimbabwe tag. The style looks late 80s early 90s, and the sizing reflects that too.

  • Gary Pinkerton on August 25, 2019

    Hello Robyn
    I have 2 shirts with the “Siam” tag.
    One is a “Tartan” flannel shirt from the Holiday 1986 catalogue.
    The other is a “Pyrenees” shirt from the Holiday Update catalogue of 1987.

    Also, I have a shirt with the logo “printed” onto the cloth itself. Here’s a similar shirt:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/BANANA-REPUBLIC-SAFARI-EXPEDITION-EXPLORER-HIKING-CAMPING-SHIRT-MENS-XL-/233267116071
    Any idea what year it may be from?

    I’ve been a BR fan since mid 80’s. I scour ebay regularly for shirts, etc.
    I recently scored a pair of new w/tag “Ventile Poplin” Safari pants, and a Donegal Wool jacket.
    Thanks for having the FB page, and website. I enjoy them both. I’ve ordered a catalogue, and hope to order more soon.
    Gary

  • Sarah on August 21, 2020

    Hi! About a year ago I Bought a leather jacket from an op-shop in Melbourne. Looking at the tag I saw it was a Banana Republic logo/tag. This instantly got me curious about the jacket. So I did a bit of digging and found this site. I was hoping if anyone could give me more info about the jacket. Like it’s value, year it was made, or even the catalogue it was from. But more importantly, what is the best way to clean it (it seems pretty old, and I don’t want to damage it).

    Below is a link to a Pinterest page I created with photos of the jacket:

    https://www.pinterest.com.au/larks14/banana-republic/

    Thanks! ^^

    • Robyn Adams on August 23, 2020

      Hi Sarah, that’s a tag from after the safari catalogs were discontinued, so it’s a little out of my wheelhouse. The timeframe is circa 1988-1991. I’d recommend taking it to a shoe shop or dry cleaners for advice on cleaning the leather. Thanks! It is beautiful.

  • Jenna Blum on August 29, 2021

    I have a rust colored Blazer or jacket for women, with suede patches on elbow, buttons in front with the “one San Francisco” tag….three functional pockets in front bottom, one up functional pocket on chest. It’s made of wool and linen mostly, RN 54023. Any ideas??

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