Banana Republic

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Banana Republic
TypeDivision of Gap
Founded1978; 45 years ago (1978)
Mill Valley, California, U.S.
FoundersMel Ziegler
Patricia Ziegler
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California, U.S.
Number of locations
700 (2017)
Area served
Key people
Sonia Syngal (CEO of parent Gap, Inc.)
Sandra Stangl (President & CEO)
ParentGap Inc. (1983–present)

Banana Republic is an upscale clothing and accessories retailer owned by The Gap. It was founded in 1978 by Mel and Patricia Ziegler, who originally called the company "Banana Republic Travel & Safari Clothing Company". In 1983, Gap purchased the company, changed the name to "Banana Republic," and rebranded the stores to achieve a more upscale image.[1][2] In the 2020s, VP of design Nicole Wiesmann has re-envisioned the brand with ad editorial campaigns that evoke luxury brands like Loro Piana with higher-end garments that have been compared favorably with Ralph Lauren, The Row, and Burberry.[3][4][5]

The name is a political science term for a country whose resources (and often sovereignty) have been taken over by powerful foreign interests. Examples include the United Fruit Company's involvement in the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état and Dole's involvement in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893.


Banana Republic Travel Clothing Catalog No. 35, Spring 1988

The original Banana Republic was founded by Mel and Patricia Ziegler in 1978.[6] The couple worked for the San Francisco Chronicle; Mel was a reporter and Patricia an illustrator. They lived in an apartment on Russian Hill. In 1978, they quit their jobs and moved to Tamalpais Valley. They wanted to start a business for income. But first, Mel received a magazine assignment to explore Australia for a few weeks with other journalists. The couple was known for acquiring interesting clothing items that their travel-related jobs brought them in contact with.[7] They eventually opened a store in the Mill Valley area of Northern California.[8] They were known for a hand-drawn catalogue of items with traveler/explorer stories printed alongside, and their safari-themed retail locations.[9][10] The Zieglers recount their adventures in the first ten years in their memoir, Wild Company, published in 2012 by Simon and Schuster.[11]

Gap Inc. acquired Banana Republic in 1983. By 1988 the founders, Mel and Patricia Ziegler, lost creative control,[12] eventually rebranding it as masstige, an accessible mass luxury clothing retailer. The literate articles, hand-drawn catalog, and eccentric tourist-oriented items were phased out and were replaced with more luxurious, but not unique, items for which the brand would be eventually known for, currently replacing higher quality materials for mass quality lower cost fabric standards.[13]

Retail history[edit]

Inside the store
Banana Republic on Saint Catherine Street in Montreal, Quebec.
Banana Republic in Markville Shopping Centre

In 2015 Banana Republic opened a new flagship in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue and 18th Street.

Banana Republic opened its first store outside North America in 2005 in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district. Banana Republic's presence in South Korea debuted in August 2007 with a store in the Apkujeong district of Seoul.

In 2007, the first Banana Republic stores opened at The Avenues shopping mall in Kuwait City, Kuwait; Senayan City in Jakarta, Indonesia; and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Banana Republic opened its first store in Turkey in March 2008 in the Kanyon Shopping Mall in Istanbul.[14] By May 2008, İstinye Park Shopping Mall and Nişantaşı stores were also opened in Istanbul. More stores are planned to be opened in Ankara and İzmir by the end of 2008 to bring the total number of stores in Turkey to six.[15]

Banana Republic opened in Saudi Arabia in late 2008, with a store in Mall of Arabia in Jeddah and a second in Riyadh Gallery Mall in Riyadh in March 2009.[16]

In March 2008, Banana Republic opened its 17,000-square-foot (1,600 m2) store on Regent Street in London, England.[17] On May 9, 2008, Banana Republic opened its store on Greenbelt 5 in Makati, Philippines.[18]

In October 2016, Banana Republic announced that it would close all its UK stores by the end of the year, due to falling sales.[19] As of 2017, Banana Republic had over 700 locations, but as a result of European stores closures, there are none left in Europe.[13]

In August 2020, Banana Republic alongside Gap announced that they will close over 225 store locations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The original plan was to close only 90 stores, however, they expanded the number as a consequence of the financial effects caused by the pandemic. The company has not stated the exact locations that will be closed, but most will be stores within malls.[20]

Clothing lines[edit]

  • BR Monogram[2]
  • Heritage
  • Sunday Sunday
  • BR Sport (2021)
  • BR Baby
  • BR Athletics
Capsule collections


In 2011, Banana Republic had 682 company-owned or franchised stores in operation across 32 countries, shipped to 21 countries through company owned websites, and had the ability to ship to more than 50 countries through a third party.[21] By late 2022, the total number of US stores fell to just 379, including three outlets in Puerto Rico, while the number of outlets in Canada climbed to 62. The company closed all eight of its UK and Ireland stores in 2016,[19] and shut down all of the brand's European websites in May 2022.


  1. ^ Moin, David (February 24, 2022). "A Repositioning Banana Republic Adds to the Mix". Women's Wear Daily.
  2. ^ a b "Major retailers launch upscale collections - Business - Retail | NBC News". NBC News. 2008-04-20. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
  3. ^ McCall, Tyler (December 13, 2022). "Banana Republic Is In Its Viral Era — What's Contributing To Its Success". Refinery29.
  4. ^ Inside Banana Republic's Bid to Regain Relevance LAUREN SHERMAN and CATHALEEN CHEN, Business of Fashion, 21 September 2022
  5. ^ CHEN, CATHALEEN (7 September 2022). "How Banana Republic Became a Bright Spot in Gap Inc.'s Portfolio". Business of Fashion.
  6. ^ Klara, Robert Before Banana Republic Was Mainstream Fashion, It Was a Weirdly Wonderful Safari Brand: Revisiting the pith helmets, Jeeps and life-size giraffes AdWeek. March 17, 2016
  7. ^ Smith, Paul (1988). "Visiting the Banana Republic," in Universal Abandon: The Politics of Postmodernism. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0816616809.
  8. ^ "Banana Republic: A Look Back - Lancer Creative Services". Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  9. ^ "The Adventure Begins..." 10 May 2011. Archived from the original on 6 April 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Banana Republic - Themed Retail That Once Was". Archived from the original on 9 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  11. ^ Ziegler, Mel (2012). Wild company : the untold story of Banana Republic. Patricia Ziegler. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-8348-6. OCLC 788290096.
  12. ^ Times, Lawrence M. Fisher and Special To the New York (9 March 1988). "Gap Inc. to Cut Growth Of Banana Republic Unit". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  13. ^ a b "Before Banana Republic Was Mainstream Fashion, It Was a Weirdly Wonderful Safari Brand". Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  14. ^ "Fiba Grubu". Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Fiba Grubu". Archived from the original on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  16. ^ "Gap Inc. to launch in Turkey, Saudi Arabia". Chain Store Age. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Regent Street Online". Archived from the original on 11 June 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  18. ^ Garceau, Therese (7 May 2008). "Yes, we have now Banana Republic". philstar. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Gap to shut all Banana Republic shops in the UK". 18 October 2016 – via The Guardian.
  20. ^ Valinsky, Jordan (August 28, 2020). "Gap is closing more than 200 stores this year". CNN Business. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  21. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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See also[edit]