From the very beginning, Banana Republic was a stroke of branding genius. The Stars and Bananas crest, as designed by Patricia Gwilliam Ziegler, was the symbol that sold the concept perfectly. Bananas arrayed like laurel leaves, a martial star at the center, and slightly funky hand lettering all contributed to the tongue-in-cheek nature of the very serious imaginary republic.
Banana Republic logo gear was the first thing they made on their own. The first catalogue offered a bag called the Banana Republic Diplomatic Pouch adorned with a patch of the crest.
Catalogue 2 Summer 1979
The Diplomatic Pouch was offered again, and the patch also appeared on A Signal Flag Bag and a Fatigue Hat. On the same page they offered the very FIRST Banana Republic T-Shirt. A yellow shirt in both men’s and women’s cuts emblazoned with a silkscreen of the Coat of Bananas in red and green. It included the motto of the company–”In Surplus We Trust”.
Catalogue Number Three
Catalogue Number 3 added a tan sweatshirt to the lineup, along with the yellow t-shirts.
Catalogue Number Four
In the 1980 fourth catalog the Coat of Bananas once again appeared on yellow t-shirts, along with a tan “Safari Outfitters”. Note in the illustration the official motto of early Banana Republic–”In Surplus We Trust”.
The Coat of Bananas was sold on yellow t-shirts and tan sweatshirts in 1981 and 1982, but note the illustration on the shirts and sweatshirts DOES NOT HAVE the motto “In Surplus We Trust”. This variation has been confirmed by Patricia Ziegler to be correct.
An authentic example of the very first Banana Republic T-Shirt has been found and now proudly resides in my collection! This is a size small women’s shirt in incredible condition for its age, the only flaw being the manufacturer’s tag is faded away. It has the motto “In Surplus We Trust” which dates it to 1979-80! In my ten years of collecting this is the earliest authenticated piece of Banana Republic to be found.