The Way We Were: Banana Republic's Halcyon Days / by LD

Here's a quick trip down memory lane: Anybody out there recall a time when Banana Republic's moniker actually made an iota of sense? Anyone?

Believe it or not, despite my infantile status as a 20-something, I do. My dad owned a t-shirt bearing a BR logo that was as far from its present esteem as Fancier Gap as one could get. I, of course, appropriated the tee for my own slumbering purposes and I'm still kicking myself that it likely met its fate at the bottom of a trash heap somewhere between the Osh Kosh B'Gosh years and the Brass Plum teenage years. I also remember seeing a catalog in the mail once or twice and lemme tell you: This weren't no Fancy Gap, folks. This was legitimate safari wear, all dust-up khaki and rebellious olive drab. Nary a twinset in sight. And one thing was certain: This certainly wasn't upscale office-wear. Unless your office happened to exist in a canvas tent in Mozambique, of course.

Nevertheless, that foggy memory surfaces every now and again as a limpid reminder that, like I've grumbled here so many times before, they sure don't make 'em like they used to. And wouldn't you know it - someone else remembered BR's halcyon days as well. My good friend Ham not only remembered the safari days, but was able to evince proof of them!

Behold, friends, photos I took of an original Banana Republic catalogue, back when the company was still owned by Mel and Patricia Ziegler, intrepid adventurers whose florid prose haunts the margins of the hand-drawn relic. Given fashion's fascination with all things military, safari, or otherwise Balmain-ified, many of the pieces featured are all too apropos.

Cotton fleece jumpsuit? Calling Alexander Wang!

Look at that gorgeous leather jacket...

Dad's shirt looked something like this

Love the waist detail on those shorts.

That belt!

In fact, judging by images of Banana Republic's Summer 2010 collection, it looks like they agree: