Last Updated on
April 12, 2020
Banana Republic is an American clothing and accessories retailer owned by Gap Inc. There are currently 414 Banana Republic locations in the United States.
From the Chronicle to clothing store owners…
Mel and Patricia Ziegler met in 1978 while working at the San Francisco Chronicle, he as a writer and she as a sketch artist. They wanted out of the corporate lifestyle, they wanted to be freelancers. Their dream was to start their own business, but they had no idea what that business would be.
Later that year, during a trip to Australia, Mel discovered and fell in love with a military surplus store. And that was all the inspiration he needed.
In 1978 Mel and Patricia Ziegler opened a weird and wonderful clothing store that they called Banana Republic Travel & Safari Clothing Company. It was, without a doubt, the most unique and unusual clothing store in San Francisco. Of course, the whole theme of the store was safari.
The Banana Republic Travel & Safari Clothing Company catalogue featured images drawn by Patricia Ziegler.
In 1983, the store was purchased by Gap and the name shortened to Banana Republic. They rebranded the store as a mainstream luxury clothing retailer, with the Zieglers retaining complete creative control of the company. The timing of the partnership was perfect, as it allowed the Zieglers to spend time designing and manufacturing their own clothing. Catalogue orders poured in from around the world and Banana Republic stores expanded nationwide.
The hand-drawn catalog and tourist-oriented items were replaced with more luxurious mainstream clothing styles.
Banana Republic is part of the Gap empire,
and is more upscale than Gap or Old Navy.
It is roughly comparable to Tommy Hilfiger or
Polo Ralph Lauren.
Today, Banana Republic also has stores outside of the United States, including Canada, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Philippines.
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