Banana Republic is a chain of clothing stores founded in 1978 by Patricia and Mel Ziegler. In its original form Banana Republic operated as an exotic themed travel clothing store where shoppers could find inexpensive safari style clothing amongst jungle inspired decor.
In 1983 Banana Republic was sold by the Zieglers to GAP Inc . Shortly thereafter in the early 90s Banana Republic began to undergo a dramatic change from an affordable safari inspired lifestyle brand to an upscale luxury goods brand. This dramatic shift was largely seen as a way to remain competitive in a clothing market that was becoming crowded with safari style imitators.
Today few people remember the unique origins of Banana Republic or the innovative catalogs the company put out full of stories that described their clothing. Instead Banana Republic is now synonymous with upscale casual and formal wear that falls neatly in line with much of the other clothing offered by stores operating under the GAP Inc. umbrella.