Gurkha Shorts

Gurkha Shorts originally were called British Safari Shorts when they were authentic surplus items. When they were mass produced they were renamed Gurkha Shorts and were sold for most of the run of the safari catalogues and even into the post-Ziegler 1989-90 era.

Featured on the back of the 1980 Catalogue No. 4, the first appearance of what were then called British Safari Shorts, original surplus 25-40 years old.
The 1982 Sales Flyer shows an “Authentic Safari Short”, presumably the surplus precursor to the mass produced Gurkha Short.
Summer 1983 debuted the Gurkha Shorts with an extended write-up.

From the 1985 catalogue: “The year was 1814. A young British lieutenant led his Indian national troops against Nepal. Border troubles. In one skirmish, the fierce Nepalese so frightened the lieutenant’s troops that his soldiers turned and fled the battlefield. But not the young officer. He stood ground. The Nepalese captured him, asking, “Why didn’t you run, too?” Replied the lieutenant, “I have not come so far in order to run away.” The awed Nepalese said, “We could serve under an officer like you,” and thus Britain inherited the famed Gurkhas. It was specifically for them that Britain designed the classic, famed safari shorts with their deep-pleated design, adjustable waist, huge deep pockets and wide leg.”

Gurkha Shorts (Stars and Bananas Tag)

Gurka Shorts (Zimbabwe Tag)

A look at the belt and the button-fly on a Gurkha short.
Mid-late 1980s Gurkha shorts have a special Made in Zimbabwe Purple Elephant tag .

Gurkha Shorts (Safari & Travel Tag)

A later issue pair of Gurkha shorts. Note the Banana Republic Travel and Safari tag.

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.

5 Comments

  • Thomas Thompson on May 19, 2020

    Thank you for sharing wonderful memories. For so long, I thought I was the only one.

  • John on December 18, 2020

    In several episodes of Mork and Mindy, Robin Williams is wearing the drill pants.

  • Dustin on July 1, 2021

    I’m still wearing my khaki Gurkha shorts that I ordered from the catalog in 1984.

  • kevin on July 17, 2021

    i used to own the ‘zimbabwe’ tag shorts, mid 80’s – mid-90’s. crazy how different BR is now from the safari catalog days.

  • Kurt on October 12, 2021

    I wore these for a few years in the mid-80s, and have been on a quest to find them ever since. I’ve found close, but never the same thing.

    They were incredibly comfortable, and ‘wore’ well.

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