Banana Republic: Up From Nowhere

FASHION

December 02, 1990|By Donna Peremes

Think "The Year of Living Dangerously." Hemingway and the Spanish Civil War. Brave foreign correspondents and courageous news photographers. Such is the cache of journalistic derring-do that Banana Republic trades on.

It is a sensibility based in reality but parlayed with self-mocking, tongue-in-cheek humor. Patricia and Mel Ziegler, a former artist and writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, founded Banana Republic in 1978 with little money and less experience. But they knew what they liked, and quickly, very quickly -- so quickly it will be written ever after in the annals of fashion retailing -- found out others were searching for the same: natural, no-fuss clothes with a romanticized touch of the exotic about them.

With Patricia's artistic renderings and Mel's inspired descriptions, their imaginative catalogs soon became all the rage, and a nationwide following was born.

In 1983 the Zieglers sold their retail concern to The Gap, which has continued the romantic world-traveler tradition, but with a more consciously applied eye to the fashions of the day. Hence you'll find slim-fitting stirrup pants alongside the requisite khakis,or a roomy blazer next to a safari jacket.

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