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Banana Republic, owned by Gap Inc, is a modern chain clothing store producing classic and versatile clothing. Founded by Mel and Patricia Ziegler in 1978, Banana Republic has evolved from a small safari clothing line into a multi-billion dollar business.

Initially, Mel and Patricia Ziegler were young journalists who set out to travel the world. Mel was sent to Australia on an assignment and stumbled upon an army surplus store stocked with British military supplies. He purchased several hundred dollars worth of merchandise and returned home to California. Shortly thereafter, Mel started receiving compliments every time he put on his safari jackets and cargo shorts. The Zieglers decided to purchase surplus clothes by the pound from Australia and sell them to their friends and family. Mel and Patricia quickly realized there was a strong demand for these products and in 1978, they started the Banana Republic.

The first Banana Republic storefront was located in Mill Valley, California. In conjunction with the storefront, the Zieglers also started a mail-order catalog that became an instant success. The catalog featured clothing from striking locales and had narrative stories throughout. The catalog success allowed the Zieglers to open a second storefront a year later. Today the Banana Republic has over 400 retail stores and generates 2.4 billion in annual revenue. According to Mel, "We started the company mostly to have the ability to travel, to be free, to write our own paycheck and we never had our sights beyond that."

In 1983, Gap, which currently also owns Old Navy and Forth & Towne, acquired Banana Republic and made the store into a more high-end "casual luxury" retailer, moving away from the safari motif. The businesses of the Gap currently employ over 150,000 people. The Zieglers in turn founded the Republic of Tea, a company that sells exotic tea, and later established an internet business for "active clothing" called Zoza that lasted through 2001.
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review by . August 03, 2009
Banana Republic is Gap's high end store featuring many different types of quality clothing for men and women.       I gave it a +3 because the quality of the clothing ranks high amongst middle class clothing stores. It offers a classy, preppy, clean cut spin on modern day clothing from work clothes to the perfect party dress. The reason I didn't give it the last two points is because it seldom takes fashion risks and usually offers safe choices including average clothing …
review by . January 24, 2009
Banana Republic clothes are sneaky. They're often very classic, safe designs -- not high on flair and nothing anyone would call edgy. So, for a long time, I would pass by Banana Republic knowing I could find similar styles for less money elsewhere.  But a friend told me that with Banana Republic, the key is to try on the clothes. That the magic of Banana Republic is how they fit. She was right. Sure, everyone sells a simple sweater, but somehow the Banana Republic one was more flattering …
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