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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This has been posted before, but I think there's a substantial turnover in folks who may have never seen it, and during this holiday season, it brings back some pretty cool memories.

Once-upon-a-time, before the era when soul-less mega retailers bought up or drove out of business every independent successful retailer of interesting goods and replaced it with ersatz fashion-oriented **** from China, Banana Republic was a retailer begun by selling military surplus as smart casual attire. And when they ran out of it, they made more. The difference between the chain that now bears that name, and what used to be fun, and often surprisingly good quality useful casual gear couldn't be more stark.

https://www.secretfanbase.com/banana/catalogs-by-year/1979-1983-catalogs/















 

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^^If only today's Banana Republic stores reflected the offerings displayed on the catalogue pages you shared with us in the opening post to this thread, so many of us would be flocking to their stores in a heartbeat! Considering today's offerings, I am baffled as to how Banana Republic's management could ever consider such to be progress. :angry::(:crazy:
 

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What is the date of that catalog? It looks as if there's a lot of great stuff in there. I first became aware of Banana Republic in the mid-80s, when they were selling a lot of tropical, safari-style duds. I was on the staff of Guns & Ammo at that time. One of our ad sales reps, who happened to have been my old class president from prep school (no coincidence--I had recruited him), made overtures to them about advertising with us. We were a little too "hard-core," "real-deal" or whatever the proper term might be for them. (I think I may have told this story before here, years ago. If so, my apologies for being a repetitive old man.)

P.S. Oh, I see: 1979-83. I think they were beginning to get a bit "faux" when I first became aware of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What is the date of that catalog? It looks as if there's a lot of great stuff in there. I first became aware of Banana Republic in the mid-80s, when they were selling a lot of tropical, safari-style duds. I was on the staff of Guns & Ammo at that time. One of our ad sales reps, who happened to have been my old class president from prep school (no coincidence--I had recruited him), made overtures to them about advertising with us. We were a little too "hard-core," "real-deal" or whatever the proper term might be for them. (I think I may have told this story before here, years ago. If so, my apologies for being a repetitive old man.)

P.S. Oh, I see: 1979-83. I think they were beginning to get a bit "faux" when I first became aware of them.
The link has a list below the images of catalogs for which they have additional images. I mixed those from a number of different catalogs in that list. Sorry, I don't recall which specific years, but believe they're from catalogs from the mid and late '80's.
 

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Thank you so much. I love these old ads.

Abercrombie & Fitch certainly fits this profile too and I know it’s been discussed before.

In retrospect we look back and think of these changes occurring almost at an instant, but they more than likely occur over time.

A lesson to be learned as we watch what slowly seems to be happening to Allen Edmonds.
 

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Thank you so much. I love these old ads.

Abercrombie & Fitch certainly fits this profile too and I know it's been discussed before.

In retrospect we look back and think of these changes occurring almost at an instant, but they more than likely occur over time.

A lesson to be learned as we watch what slowly seems to be happening to Allen Edmonds.
I agree that is what appears to be happening with AE with all the new ugly casual shoes, but then they introduce something like the Sullivan Street:

That's a damn nice looking boot, too bad it's the only new thing in the last couple of years would consider.

I have little hope they will keep their traditional methods and styles long-term. I would love for them to start making shoes with more flattering lasts and up their QC somewhat. Great customer service can only offset getting a nasty defect on a pair of firsts so many times before people are done with it.
 

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The Gap purchased Banana Republic in 1983, which is when most people started becoming aware of it (because suddenly there were stores everywhere). There were just a handful of stores before then (and catalogs).

At that point, the company remained worthwhile for 5 years, until The Gap swapped out the old management team (1988), setting them on the path they've followed since.

I first discovered Banana Republic as an undergraduate student (since I went to a university in a major metropolitan area with stores, versus the rural town I grew up in), so I was able to enjoy some fine things for awhile. I had stopped really shopping there by 1990-1991.

I used to go from time to time just to look at the sales rack for linen shirts, which I would buy if they were 70% or better off, but eventually I stopped visiting the store altogether. I can even tell you the last time I went, which was Fall/Winter of 2009, because I had lost a ton of weight following a quadrupal bypass (down to 150lbs at 6'1"!), and needed a temporary wardrobe for my emaciated, skeletal form: BR didn't disappoint, with previous season stuff hugely marked down.

That's it! A life history told in a retail brand!

DH
 

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In reality, the heyday of the company was when it was just a catalog founded by a couple of ex-journalists of things that piqued the interest of them and their friends. It was cleverly designed to look like a foreign correspondent's diary, with notes and sketches. Like J. Peterman, there was always a good story behind each product offered, which made each item seem even more grand than it was, and there were some pretty neat and unique items offered. The early brick-and-mortar stores were much better than they are now, but were really the downfall of the overall concept.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
The Gap purchased Banana Republic in 1983, which is when most people started becoming aware of it (because suddenly there were stores everywhere). There were just a handful of stores before then (and catalogs).

At that point, the company remained worthwhile for 5 years, until The Gap swapped out the old management team (1988), setting them on the path they've followed since.
Thank you for the excellent history! It comports precisely with my experience with them during that time. Yes, things began to change once the chain morphed from interesting to banal. I remember it mostly from the mid to late 80's, which is what is depicted in the pages imaged at the attached website.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Didn't Eddie Bauer have a similar trajectory when they went from being an "Expedition Outfitter" to a generalized sportswear company?
I believe it must have been similar.

My experience with them dates to the early '70's. At that time the core of their business was the marvelous goose down garments they sold which truly were suited for the most demanding outdoor wear. They sold some additional items of rustic clothing but it was minimal. Sometime in the early '80's they expanded and while retaining a more rustic nature to their clothing broadened their line enormously, with the goose down items becoming little more than an afterthought. I would assume this must have coincided with an infusion of corporate cash.

Candidly I found quite a few of the items from that period fairly stylish, if not serious outdoor wear. I still have a couple wool flannel ties from that period that they had made up in handsome checks, and still enjoy wearing them. Both their level of taste/design and quality was upper-middle.

Then their line changed dramatically again in the early to mid '90's, which I would assume coincided with another change of ownership. Over night their stuff became unappealing and junky.
 

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^I still have a shirt with "outdoorsy" styling that I bought from an Eddie Bauer shop in the Glendale Galleria in 1990 or 1991. It seems like a good shirt, although it probably owes its longevity to the fact that I don't do much boondocking anymore.
 

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Resurrecting this old thread with a vintage safari jacket I picked up on Ebay. I've been wanting one of these for some time. This one is a great example of the pre-Gap era when the jackets were correctly sized. It appears to be un-worn.

Outerwear Dress shirt Sleeve Grey Collar
 
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