Banana Republic is a chain of "casual luxury" clothing stores owned by Gap Inc., which also operates Gap, Old Navy, and Forth & Towne clothing stores.
The original Banana Republic was founded by Mel and Patricia Ziegler in 1978. It was a two-store safari and travel-themed clothing company. The majority of sales came from its eccentric catalog, which presented high-end and unique items with chatty, usually fictional, backstories from exotic locations, as well as more pedestrian high-volume products deliberately spiced up with a similar treatment. The company competed directly with the J. Peterman catalog later satirized on Seinfeld. As Banana Republic expanded its retail operation, it became known for the themed decoration in its stores, often featuring authentic elements, such as real Jeeps and foliage, as well as atmospheric elements, such as fog and steam.
Gap Inc. acquired Banana Republic in 1983, eventually rebranding it as a mainstream luxury clothing retailer. The eccentric tourist-oriented items were phased out and were replaced with more of the "casual luxury"-type items for which the brand is currently known. For a time, Banana Republic ate into Gap's consumer base. To set itself apart from Gap as a more upmarket brand, Banana Republic occasionally buys and refurbishes historic buildings for its retail locations.
Today the company operates over 400 Banana Republic stores in the United States (including Puerto Rico), and 24 stores in Canada. It has also recently opened 2 stores in Tokyo, Japan. Banana Republic offers clothing in women's regular and petite sizes as well as in men's. Recently, some men's stores were converted to sell petite sizes as well. It has also recently signed franchising deals in Malaysia, Singapore, and the UAE.
Banana Republic web
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