Abandoned Republic, a blog all about Banana Republic, back when it was cool, has a wonderful scan of a 1985 profile of the company’s founders in Metropolitan Home magazine. Catnip for the safari shirt set.
Banana Republic When It Was Banana Republic
An anonymous reader in Yucca Valley, California sent me a cool gift in the mail today - a group of Banana Republic catalogs from 1987 and 1988.
The company was founded by a pair of journalists in 1978, and purchased five years later by the Gap. Initially, they sold vintage international military surplus, then started reproducing their most popular items. In 1987 and 1988, the founders were still traveling the world, looking for unique and classic clothes to reproduce. The company didn’t become the vaguely Eurotrashy upscale cousin to the Gap until the 1990s.
Above I’ve photographed a few of the coolest items from the catalog - from Ghurka shorts (a passion of mine, I must admit) to reproduction flight jackets. There’s even a cameo from Bloom County artist Berkeley Breathed. If the catalogs pique your interest, the blog Abandoned Republic is dedicated to the early days of Banana, and features tons of photos of clothes and scans of catalogs. Just be careful: once you get yourself down the rabbit hole, it can be tough to get back out. You’ll be saving eBay searches soon enough.
I’ve just lost forty minutes in the photo gallery of the Martin & Osa Johnson Safari Museum. The Johnsons were a Kansas couple who adventured their way through the 1920s and 30s, making some of the first wildlife documentaries on film and photographing both people and animals. Their book was called “I Married Adventure.” Wonderful.
I’ll admit it: I do love a good safari outfit.
Scott Adams of Abandoned Republic just added some more great catalog graphics from Banana Republic back when it was Banana Republic (seller of safari-inspired adventure clothing), not Banana Republic (seller of Eurotrash-inspired business casual clothing). Love this blog.