Banana Republic When It Was Banana Republic

June 13, 2013

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.