Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Just as our closets go through major transformations, brands do too. Peter Hartlaub, pop culture critic at the San Francisco Chronicle and founder of the publication's culture blog The Big Event, took a trip down memory lane in a recent post, revisiting the safari-themed surplus store that was Banana Republic in the '80s—the first store opened in Mill Valley in 1978. Back then, the store specialized in Italian military shirts, leather bomber jackets, cargo pants and safari hats. The BR catalog was widely distributed and to much fanfare -- even a high level exec at the National Bank of Kuwait requested a copy in 1979 (it was respectfully declined).
Hard to believe the precursor of today's king of business casual was a surplus store complete with military jeeps as decor. The closest remnant of the safari days may be these perfectly tailored, low profile, cargo pants. Just goes to show everyone (and every brand) has a past. For a more in-depth look into the history of Banana Republic, check out the book Wild Company: The Untold Story of Banana Republic, written by the brand's founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler's.—Esther Hahn
· Banana Republic Rising: Remembering the Store's Safari Years [SF Gate]