Banana Republic History

1988 Conde Nast Article: Banana Republic Coup

“I think of myself as a traveler in the same way other people think of themselves as Democrats or Republicans or vegetarians.” Mel Ziegler once said. Just one of many wonderful quotes in this fascinating article from a 1988 issue of Conde Nast. Published immediately after the Zieglers left Banana Republic, it’s a look at […]


This photograph of endless stacks of surplus clothing was included in the collection Patricia Ziegler sent. It was taken at Cobles in London. The Zieglers went abroad searching warehouses in England for a great price on great quality surplus goods. Mr. Cobles is featured prominently in the Zieglers’ book Wild company. Here, Mel writes”…the courtly […]

The BR Studio Services Department

Banana Republic had a Southern California Studio Services Department that served the needs of the film and television community. Born at the Beverly Hills store and then later headquartered in Beverly Center, the department was headed by Louise Voisine who wrote me: Developing the Studio Services Dept. was a dream. I already knew alot of […]

My visit to the NYC Banana Republic Archive

This week I received an unexpected invitation from the Banana Republic Creative Team to visit the Banana Republic Archive in New York City. It turns out the team has loved following the Abandoned Republic blog and Instagram and they really wanted to meet me and share the archive. It was a whirlwind trip, and we […]

Banana Republic Goes Vintage

ON June 17th, 2021 Banana Republic launched “BR Vintage”, selling actual vintage BR clothing from the 1980s and 1990s. A most unusual development, they selected items from the same sources we collectors do: eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, etc and resold them on their website at astonishing markups. A Hooded Bush Vest for $175, a Bombay Shirt […]

Trips Magazine Advertorial

It’s unusual, of course, to see photography paired with Banana Republic clothing. The March 1988 Trips Magazine however, had a 16 page spread of artfully treated photographs of models wearing BR clothes from the Spring/Summer 1988 line. The photos are taken in San Francisco (including one shot in front of the Polk Street store) and […]

Banana Republic Bookstore and Catalogs

Tara Sendelback of GPF in the Travel Books section of Banana Republic (March, 1988) – Photo by Richard Lee, Detroit Free Press. Photo Courtesy Neal Moore Collection. Banana Republic launched the Bookstore Catalogue in 1986, and there were five editions in total, the last coming in 1988. At the same time, bookstores were opened in […]


Banana Republic stores often had large fiberglass (or resin) 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 […]

Original Artwork

I was given these two colored pencil illustrations from the catalogs drawn by artist Nick Backes that show the marvelous detail and large size (7″x10″ and 6″x14″). Thanks for the donation from Mike Madrid! These are both from the Summer 1985 catalogue. From Holiday 1985, these incredible colored pencil illustrations of the Kashmir Sweater by […]

Celebrity Sighting

This 1986 Employee Newsletter has a blurb about actor Jeff Goldblum buying an Army Air Corps Jacket to use in his upcoming movie “The Fly”. Sure enough, he wears the jacket in several scenes. There’s even a scene where actress Geena Davis purchases the jacket, but sadly its set in a menswear shop and not […]

A Letter about a Flight Jacket

I jumped at the chance to buy a 1986 Mel Ziegler letter on BR letterhead and I’m really glad I did. First, it’s just a great look at what a classy company they were and how Mel’s gift for language never fails to charm. It’s so warm and witty. Secondly, this particular letter points directly […]

True Surplus: Swedish Bandolier

A favorite item is the Authentic Swedish Bandolier.  Banana Republic was selling these “authentic relic” surplus bandoliers in their catalogs from Holiday 1984 until Fall 1985. UPDATE: Discovered the Bandolier was offered as early as 1979!! See below.  From the catalog: “One never has enough pockets on safari. This leather bandolier with canvas insets offers […]

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 17, 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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 the long-awaited memoir from the founders of our long lost […]

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 […]

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 […]

Banana Republic Catalog #26 Holiday 1985 Cover Key

I asked Kevin Sarkki for the backstory on the 1985 Catalog Cover and provided him with a key to identify the people in the image. For more about Kevin check out the interview with him. “The Holiday 1985 cover was perhaps the most collaborative cover. The logo/masthead featured Primo Angeli’s design punctuated by Patricia Zeigler’s […]

Banana Republic Catalog #15 Fall 1983 Naturalist's Shirt, Traveller's Wool Pants, Safari Jacket, Safari Pants

A Rare Look: Banana Republic Catalogs 1978-1983

This gallery was made possible by former Banana Republic staff artist Kevin Sarkki who generously scanned his personal archive.  An interview with Kevin is coming soon. The original Banana Republic catalog was printed as a duo-tone, an inexpensive two-color printing technique that fit the funky style of a surplus clothing company. The early catalogs were […]

Patricia Ziegler Covers 1981-1983

This second batch of duotone covers from early Banana Republic are all by BR co-founder Patricia Ziegler. The animal spots make a return for the 1981 Gift Catalog. What really stands out there is the appearance of the 2nd BR store ever–the San Francisco location at Polk and Green. I visited this store in the late […]