I was first introduced to Banana Republic by my Dad, Roger, in 1984 or 85. He had been living in the Western Alaskan bush teaching school in Yupik eskimo villages since 1977 and returned to New Mexico for summer visits every year. I’m not sure, but I imagine he had some BR clothes shipped to him in New Mexico and of course they came with a catalog included, which is how I got hooked. I was an aspiring artist and I think I probably wanted to know how to draw as well as the drawings in the catalog even more than I wanted the clothes.
Recently my family and I went back to New Mexico for a visit. Dad retired there a few years back. I showed him the blog, brought him an old catalog and we talked about Banana Republic. I was a little bit surprised when he started pulling out all of his old Banana Republic stuff. I imagined like me he had let go of his old stuff long ago after it A) Wore out B) Got lost or ruined C)Took up too much room.
Well, I shouldn’t have been surprised because A) Banana Republic stuff never wore out. B) My Dad always takes really good care of his stuff. C) Like me, my Dad always has room for a good collection. Camera, Firearms, Old West Memorabilia, etc.
My Banana Republic travel adventures were limited to a visit to the Big City where they had a Banana Republic store. I wore it because it looked cool, and I tossed it out when it fell out of fashion, and I got back into it because I could find it on eBay. : )
My Dad, on the other hand, really used this stuff, as you will see.
This photo hanging on his wall is from the annual moose hunt in the Alaskan bush. He’s wearing his English Waterproof Vest, which he says was the perfect garment for the wet conditions of an autumn hunt.
And here is that self-same vest and it’s companion jacket, 25 years and 4,000 miles later.
These jackets came with one of my favorite Banana Republic collectibles: A can of English Wax dressing. I love these metal canisters and the fabulous design of the sticker with the crown and the British Empire Produce label. I want one of these. There is no mention of them with the garments in the catalogs. I don’t know if they shipped them with the clothes or sold them at the stores or what. The idea was you had to wax these waterproof clothes periodically so they’d repel water. Came with a little packaged cloth and everything.
These clothes saw a lot of use in the bush on many hunting trip and other treks. They are showing some wear, but they stood up very, very well.
In photographing his collection, we took a page from JT’s Collection and posed the clothes on a fine old armchair (my great-grandmother’s as a matter of fact). Here we have a beloved Bush vest that has been worn off and on for years but I swear looks like it is brand new. The olive jacket is a Correspondent’s Jacket, also in fantastic condition. Dad prized these clothes for their durability and quality as well as their functional design.
An avid photographer since his days in Vietnam, here’s my Dad’s Photojournalist Vest and Photojournalist Bag which houses his cameras and lenses and has been carried far and wide over the years.
Here he is in the Photojournalist’s Vest on the banks of a river on a photography expedition.
Here’s the Traveler’s Sport Coat, an amazingly well tailored jacket that is filled with hidden pockets that enabled my Dad to travel from the bush into Anchorage for a conference and carry all manner of things with him but still look the part of a professional when he arrived. I’ve heard others really swear by this jacket on similar grounds. It did exactly what they advertised it would.
Here’s a close up of the British Land Forces belt, a really sweet piece of surplus “Discovered by Banana Republic”.
He bought this with the Bushman’s Shirt and Outback Shorts it was advertised with.
This next picture shows three French Army Bush hats of varying wear. The white one was once as tan as the first one which is in mint condition. That’s many, many hours in the sun!
Lastly, perhaps the cutest Banana Republic related picture ever taken, my four year old son Jonah and his Grand-Dad posing in their French Army Bush hats. Jonah got to take his home, it’s a size small and we send him out in it all the time.
I hope you enjoyed this visit to my Dad’s collection. Scroll through this gallery for more close up shots of the clothes. Thanks, Dad! See what you started me on?
Want to share your collection? Photograph it (on a nice big armchair or not) and get in touch! Please let us know we aren’t alone!