The Pith Helmet

From the catalogue: “From Her Majesty’s former burden, the colony of India, comes our genuine Bombay Bowler. Water repellent khaki cotton covers the pith. Positively sunroof. For extra protection on particularly scorching days, we suggest dunking the hat occasionally in cool water.” The Pith Helmet was a staple of Banana Republic from the very beginning. […]

Guide to Leather Jackets

From the July 1986 employee newsletter Communique comes an exhaustive breakdown of the manufacture and care of Banana Republic leather. Click to enlarge.  Leather jackets were among the most expensive and popular items in the Banana Republic catalog, often taking up prime real estate near the front or at the center of the catalogue.  Banana [...]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 [...]

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 […]

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 Holiday Update 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 a printer’s sample that hadn’t been cut yet!  This is an […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

#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 […]

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 […]

1979 Winter Catalogue #1

The Motherload! Covers 1979-1980

  Unbelievably exciting stuff to post! This weekend I got in touch with an artist credited on a 1986 catalog. Kevin Sarkki, it turns out, was the very first artist hired by Banana Republic back in 1982. I’ll be posting a fascinating interview with Kevin soon, but for now I’m excited beyond belief to share […]

Covers 21 and 23

Added 2 new covers to the covers gallery today. I’m pacing myself now, having added 2 complete catalogs to get the ball rolling. From here on out I think it’ll come in small bites, so keep coming back. Subscribe to the blog or join the Facebook page to get a hit of old BR when […]