BANANA REPUBLIC: UP FROM NOWHERE

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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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