The store Banana Republic is a brand synonymous with high quality American leisure wear epitomizing classic and everyday cuts. Skirts, shirts, and pants with clean lines are signature pieces along with well-crafted accessories and jewelry.
Something the brand is also synonymous with is the historical term "banana republic," which I hadn't heard of until I took a decent college history class. In history, the term refers to a small politically unstable country that depends on exporting goods to a larger wealthier country for their primary economic profits.
Honduras and Guatemala are considered banana republics because they had very large pieces of land owned by American and European fruit corporations (this is where bananas come in)- huge monopolies for private profit.
So what does this have to do with clothes?
In 1978 husband and wife duo Mel and Patricia Zeigler started Banana Republic as a safari travel-themed clothing company. Thus, stemming from the term banana republic. They originally had only two stores and made the bulk of their profit from, once again, travel-themed illustrated catalogues featuring exotic locales.
The Gap Inc., which now includes The Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime (a personal favorite), and Athleta, bought Banana Republic in 1983 and immediately began rebranding the store to create a more upscale version of The Gap as a mainstream luxury retailer- how we see BR today.
Recently, Banana Republic has had some rather exciting collaborations that have caught the attention of high-fashion and everyday shoppers alike. On March 1 of this year, they launched a 40-piece country club-like collection designed by Janie Bryant, the costume designer of hit series Mad Men. If you've ever watched the show, you'll notice a strong nostalgia of longing for a period you were never alive for (well, maybe some of you were). The male model for the collection looks eerily like a young version of Don Draper (Jon Hamm for those of you who don't watch the show), which is always a plus.
This summer, they launched a Trina Turk for Banana Republic collection that features the signature colorful graphics and clean lines of the higher-end designer. Model Coco Rocha starred in the ad campaign- if you haven't checked our her wildly popular tumblr, go now! She's fun to follow along with, and it's hard not to be slightly envious of her jet-setting designer-wearing lifestyle.
Banana Republic also has a wonderful tumblr that chronicles new collections and the behind the scenes of shoots and runway shows.
Whew! I know that was a bit long-winded, but I feel like it's always interesting and fun to learn where your clothes are coming from and the ideas behind them. For Designer Spotlight, I'm going to try to alternate between high-end and everyday designers and companies, so for next week, look out for something a little more exclusive.
Image sources: old school//Mad Men//Trina Turk//runway