Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Yuppie Safari, Anyone?

Back in the olden days, Banana Republic was marketed to yuppies with aspirational safari/world travel fantasies. It was A Thing, complete with hand-drawn catalogs. Well, bless my mother's hoarder heart that she saved some of these catalogs and then offloaded them onto me. Enjoy.  -A

A: Can I interest you in a flight suit?

M: Dude, some hipster is wearing that right now.

A: You know who wore this best? David Bowie in the Dancing in the Streets video.

M: Truly

A: I’m pretty sure my mother wanted that and we definitely had the Turkana belt.

M: Man that belt is amazing

A: The leather pouch fit exactly nothing.

M: You could keep your Dexadrine in there.

A: I distinctly remember being annoyed that it wouldn’t fit a pack of Camel Lights.

M: Things a Turkana belt can hold: One quarter, two Dexadrine, your tears.


M: You’re a goner.


M: You’ll just have the memory of that lion.

A: I’ll just put my stuff in my Israeli Paratrooper briefcase. All good.

M: Ben Franklin…approves?

A: (Truth: I had that bag and carried it all through high school.)

M: He doesn’t strike me as a shorts kind of guy.

A: Banana is really stretching to tie Ben Franklin in with those middle-aged dad shorts. I mean, what?

M: Maybe our founding fathers were into cargo shorts.

A: It would explain a lot, actually.


  1. I wore that Turkana belt all through high school. Think I ditched the pouch.

  2. I love this so much. I remember back in the late '90s I interviewed with Banana and had to visit a store in Virginia to meet with their District Manager; the store had yet to be remodeled and was a full-blown safari with taxidermied heads, fake jungle, open trunks holding sweaters, bamboo walls. It blew my mind, I finally understood where the hell the name came from and how far it had come.

  3. yes yes yes yes yesssssss! I used to LOVE getting that catalog! I had the most gorgeous burgundy turtleneck dress ordered from BR, with a leather belt that I would commit crimes to have back ... I wanted all that safari shit, I bought the fantasy completely. The old themed stores (like Alison describes) were sofa king awesome -- a real mall destination, back when there were only like ten of them. Anytime you're bored, you can go ahead and post more of these! And more Bowie gifs. Lots more.

    1. I have three catalogs, so lots more to come. And I very distinctly remember my first trip to one of the original Banana stores (Alison: It was in Tyson's Corner, I think?) and it was AMAZING. Like, a Jeep drove right through the store and they just left it there! Giraffe heads! Mosquito netting! Heh.

  4. gleemonex said it first but yes yes yesssss! I was just telling a younger co-worker what BR started out like, she gave me quite the puzzled look. I still have my old BR checkbook cover.

  5. I fondly remember a suede button front skirt and the original Banana in the West Village!

  6. I 100% remember this! There was a row boat in the store I used to go to. Every summer I'd buy a t-shirt from BR, it always had a safari themed image on the back. Oh, how I loved them!

  7. I recently ran across a random late 90s Anthropologie catalog and had all sorts of fashion flashbacks. But this BR catalog is just too perfect!
    Did anyone else immediately think of the J Peterman catalog?

    1. I didn't know J. Peterman actually existed back in the day, so during the whole run of Elaine's employment there on Seinfeld, I assumed they were goofing on Banana Republic!

  8. My mom had that paratrooper briefcase! As a teacher, she would carry home a lot of papers and "implements mightier than the sword".