State of the Republic: Bananas Missing
Is There a Coup Underway?
Critical Shopper WHO WEARS SHORT SHORTS? To quote the old Nair commercial. Specifically, who on God's earth wears white…
Originally published May 28, 2014 here.
A scathing yet humorous and spot-on critique by NYT’s Alexandra Jacobs of Banana Republic’s current state of affairs, namely the departure from its roots. I recall nearly 20 years ago when Banana Republic still maintained a semblance of their founders’ (Mel and Patricia Ziegler) aesthetic, stocking merchandise inspired by safari gear and military surplus, even if it was at times only detectable in the trimmings and notions. In an October 2012 interview in Forbes, Mel reminisces, “To us, from day one Banana Republic was as much about originality and freedom of expression as it was about making money.” Mel is a writer and Patricia is an artist. Even in the 90s after BR was acquired by Gap, there was still congruence between the name of the store and what you found inside.
These days, the brand is diluted to the point where the old story has become dissonant and there is no new story to replace it. Originality, freedom of expression, art — BR has become the antithesis of these. How do mediocre quality Brooks Brothers knockoffs align with the Banana Republic brand essence? They don’t. Jacobs’ closing line encapsulates things nicely.
I thought of the designer Alexis Kirk, whose tusk belts were worn by prominent G.O.P. women in the ’80s, though he was a Democrat, and wondered how the Zieglers feel about unwittingly begetting a generation of Banana Republicans. — Alexandra Jacobs, Is There a Coup Underway?, 5.21.2014
Originally published at https://www.tumblr.com.