Shopping Safari! “Banana Republic Guide” Employee Vests and Shirts

One of the more fun items to collection are store employee “guide” vests and shirts. These are either hooded bush vests or Expedition shirts with a silk-screened stars and bananas emblem labeled Banana Republic Guide. Probably one of the coolest and highest quality retail “uniforms” ever! 



I first heard about these when I found an old Craigslist ad selling one. The hunt was on! Eventually I had three different samples and I’ve seen other variations, including a black shirt.

This employee helping a customer may be wearing one of the official Banana Republic Guide vests, but we can’t say for sure. (1988 Press photo from my personal collection)


An unusual example on a white Safari Shirt.
This example is on a white Costa Brava shirt

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.


  • Sebastian Hernandez on January 14, 2020

    Love the catalogs and have a few of my own. Love and miss those times with destinations without multitudes and malls.

  • John Mavrakis on January 14, 2021

    This is so funny to see! While the idea was good, the employees hated, really hated, to wear these items. They really restricted the sense of uniqueness that each employee wanted to bring to the store with their personal style, and just looked artificial in the stores. In the Summer, they were a bear to wear (as you can imagine)! But, our in-store traffic was so enormous that it was felt that the employees needed to “stand out” within the crowd. For me, a name badge was good enough as our customer service was legendary and few customers ever had to ask who worked in a store!

    • Robyn Adams on January 16, 2021

      That’s fascinating! I hadn’t thought about how they’d restrict personal style, which must have been a big draw to work there. Thanks for sharing your memories!

    • kristen on November 27, 2023

      i worked in one in the late 80s. I found the opposite actually. I loved that i did not have to worry about ‘dressing for work’ every day. I just wore their clothes. The difficult part was the vest, customers always wanted to buy one …but one with ‘guide’ on the back not realizing that was for employees only. Happened over and over!

  • chuck cottone on January 16, 2023

    Wow! Thanks for bringing back some fond memories. My ex wife Patty and I spent a ton of money at Banana Republic in their stores in New York and Connecticut. and mail order.. If I remember correctly. the Connecticut store had a full size WW2 Army Jeep in the entrance. You guys brought back the happiest times in my life. We split under a misunderstanding [really]. We used too wear our safari clothes to go house hunting! I still have one of their Israeli surplus bags! Good quality stuff!! Too bad they’re gone. The founder of The Men’s Warehouse was forced out by management too. Hey, one door closes, another opens.

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