Knock-Off BR “Uniforms”

I found this shirt was found on eBay in February 2021, and the jacket was found several years earlier by Wendy Joffe, also on eBay. They have been identified as fakes by Patricia Ziegler and another BR executive, John Mavrakis. The same result as the Banana Pocket shirt I found.

For what it’s worth, however, the seller of the shirt believes her daughter (or daughter’s friend) wore the shirt when she worked at Banana Republic, but the details have been lost in time. Not much certain to go on there. (Perhaps she worked at a store that sold fake BR stuff!)

The shirt and jacket at first glance look like something designed for an employee or store manager. The jacket is unlined and would slip over a shirt easily for wear in a store.

But the details are not quite right! The jacket and shirt both have a tag on the front pocket that says “Banana Republic” and has a star and bananas symbol. Neither of these elements is correct. The font is like nothing BR used, and the proportion of bananas to star is all wrong. It looks like someone’s idea of what a Banana Republic tag would be.

If this were a legitimate BR item I would expect the proper logotype and star and bananas to be used:

The shirt and jacket have BR Star and Bananas Mill Valley labels tags in them that are somewhat accurate to the originals. However, the words “Mill Valley” and “California” are spaced too close to each other in comparison to legitimate labels. Also, the sewing of the label is less precise than usual, sloppy even.

Unfortunately, the shirt’s size and manufacture tag was cut out, but on the jacket it simply says 100% cotton and the size, with no country of origin or manufacturer’s number, which the Banana Pocket shirt did have. This is a good indicator that it’s a knock off.

Lastly, both items have something never seen on BR wear: All of the buttons say “Banana Republic” on them in a circular pattern in a stencil font.

The fabric on the shirt seems a little like Expedition Cloth, but it feels lighter and less dense, one could say cheap. I don’t have any BR items that match it. The design of a single seam in the middle of the square pocket is very unusual, as is the superfluous seam in the middle of the sleeve.

Neither of these is the same quality as the official employee shirts and vests, which silkscreened the official crest of bananas onto actual Hooded Bush Vests, Expedition Shirts and Naturalist Shirts.

One (unlikely) explanation for these items could be they were official employee items that the executives from BR either don’t recall or never saw in their time there. Could these have been produced and sent to stores without upper management knowing? That seems highly unlikely. It’s hard to see how these would have made it through the approval process at BR, because they are just not quite up to BR standards.

If they are fakes, a great deal of trouble went into creating them. We know that BR had a problem with fakes and knock offs, to the point that legal action was taken against actual fake stores. See also the Fake Banana Republic Coat of Bananas Sweater.

Unfortunately we will probably never know for sure what the origin of these items is, but they are certainly unique pieces in a Banana Republic collection. I have a soft spot for oddball items and knock-offs, and as with most popular brands, BR seems to have had a number of them.

In speaking with Banana Republic VP of Retail John Mavrakis, he said of knock-offs, “As with any product/store/brand that is popular, one finds the knock-offs almost immediately. They will copy as closely as possible so that the intended consumer will not question the authenticity of the product. So . . . we started being presented with knock-offs and forgeries pretty quickly as the store roll-out began and the company was in the press. The stores I visited were very brazen in the efforts (not typical!), and had mediocre products with ridiculous labeling. I believe one of them went so far as to call their store “something Republic (I cannot recall the exact name they used, but it was close to Banana and was a fruit). Those that weren’t so brazen did a pretty good job of replicating the label, and a lot of these were made in the Far East (mostly China). Generally one could tell it was a knock-off as it wasn’t a product we carried in the company.”

The tag pocket has a superfluous seam in the middle.
The Star and Banana symbol is a derivative of the crest in the Mill Valley tag. The font is not anything we’ve seen before on BR items. Were this an official logo it would have the large star with bananas from the catalog masthead.
Note that there is very little room between Mill Valley and California. The star and banana is about right compared to legit tags, as is the oval lettering, but the oval doesn’t extend past the rectangle as it should. Note the rather sloppy job of sewing the tag in, the lines are not straight.
The buttons of the shirt say Banana Republic but they are so small it’s hard to read.
This extra seam is not something we’ve seen before.

Jacket courtesy Wendy Joffe

An Expedition style jacket with a buckle-less belt.
Note there is no country of origin on the tag, nor the manufacturer’s RN number.
The Star and Banana symbol is a derivative of the crest in the Mill Valley tag. Were this an official logo it would have the large star with bananas from the catalog masthead.
BR never put its name on buttons as far as I know. These buttons are not at all right in their style.

In May 2021 this incredibly ugly dress with the same tags appeared on eBay.

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.


  • Frank on July 1, 2021

    Interesting what shows up in the “gray market” of clothing.

  • JC on August 10, 2023

    This is so fascinating. I have the exact same dress right now so at least two of them existed. I found this while I was researching the label.

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