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Inspirations: Banana Republic Guide to Travel & Safari Clothing

May 25th, 2012 by Fitz, Inspirations, 0 Comments

Banana Republic Book

The runaway success of Raiders of the Lost Ark (later retitled “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”) in 1981 inspired a whole wave of “exotic travel” safari fever. Case in point: the original Banana Republic. Before it was purchased by the Gap, it was a travel store with lots of repurposed military surplus clothing and decorated in a fanciful safari style (fiberglass animals, fake palm trees, etc.). Here’s a great article with photos of those original stores. I loved that Banana Republic.

The stores themselves are long gone but one cool relic left behind is the Banana Republic Guide to Travel & Safari Clothing book. It’s a 100+ page tome brimming with illustrations and descriptions of all the classic travel clothes. It includes the origins of garments, how they were used, and often included stills from famous films where they were worn.

When Mel and Patricia Ziegler opened Banana Republic in 1978, they publicized their mail order operation with elaborately hand-illustrated catalogues. Modeled after these early publications, the Banana Republic Guide to Travel & Safari Clothing incorporates over 300 full color illustrations with brief, witty commentaries on the histories of featured garments. Complete with insights into key pieces like Safari Jackets and Mud Cloth Bandanas, there are also answers to more pressing questions, such as, “Should Khakis Match?”

For anyone interested in the romance of vintage travel (if not actual travel itself) this book is a gem. It’s long out of print but you can still dig up copies on Amazon or the like:

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