Did you know that the very early Banana Republic stores featured a Jeep? It was a design directive in support of the brand’s safari aesthetic. Banana Republic Travel & Safari Clothing Company was the original name of the retailer and the brand was inspired by trips to far-flung locations that the founding couple took as part of their nine-to-fives. In the late 1970s, if you wanted a belted utility jacket or a pair of breezy pleated cuffed cargo shorts, Banana Republic Travel & Safari Clothing Company was the place to score.
Five years after establishing Banana Republic, the Zieglers sold their company to Gap Inc. With the acquisition, the brand took a turn for the less eclectic and more luxe and in turn, lost the original Banana Republic DNA. There are times where the current brand references it’s heritage with a safari print, but for the most part the old BR is long gone.
I initially remember discovering the Heritage Collection along with the (now defunct) Monogram Collection back in 2010. Every other year or so, Banana Republic will release an especially fantastic Heritage Collection. Several of the styles are a callback to the OG BR, as seen in the above vintage Banana Republic mail order catalogue. This year, the majority of the items are available in extended sizes, up to size 18 as well as tall size range.
My favorites are the racerback silk slip dress (no polyester satin here!), the olive henley dress, the zebra print utility shirt and skirt which will make a fantastic hookup, and the cream pleated cropped cargo pant. While the slip dress and henley dress decidedly call back the luxe phase of the early 1990s, the utility shirt, skirt, and pleated cropped cargo pant are explicit references to the nascent years of Banana Republic.