Gap and Banana republic are amongst the most recognizable names in the retail industry. These two department store chains have made a mark in the industry. However, they have varying shoppers across different age grades. Although these companies have a lot in common, some differences set them apart. In this Gap vs Banana Republic comparison, we’ll walk you through all you need to know about the two brands and what sets them apart. Now that you know what this article covers, let’s dig in.
Gap vs Banana Republic – How Banana Republic Started
The Banana Republic started with Mel Ziegler, who met his wife, Patricia, at the San Francisco Chronicle. He was working as a reporter, and she was an illustrator. They both felt restless and creatively restricted, so they quit in 1979. While on a freelance press trip to Australia, Ziegler bought an old British Burma jacket from a Sydney store and wore it home. The couple loved the utilitarian swagger the jacket featured so much that they decided to start a business that focused on reselling surplus military cloth. The idea was that Patricia, Ziegler’s wife, would customize them with civilian touches like belts, suede elbow patches, wood buttons, and more.
The couple had only $1,500 when they started the Banana Republic. This was a term Henry coined in 1904 to mean politically unstable and corrupt Latin country. Americans for whom surplus usually meant U.S. Army t-shirts fell in love with the military jackets the Zieglers found on their international buying trips. They usually found these items very cheap and sold them for a significantly higher price in the U.S. When the couple decided to name their business Banana Republic, a friend told them it was a bad idea and they would be picked on and small countries. However, they went on with the name, fully aware it was an insulting name.
The couple opened their first Banana Republic store in 1978 in their hometown of Mill Valley. The store prospered as a result of their hard work and creativity. However, there were certain limits on how far the company could go. In 1983, Donald Fisher from Gap bought the company. He insisted that the couple remained as the head of the company with an agreement to give them total creative freedom.
Banana Republic’s Growth
The addition of Gap’s funding and manufacturing power led to explosive growth for the Banana Republic. The brand opened safari stores across the country. They hired writers and artists to produce catalogs for the company as they designed and produced original clothing in factories worldwide. In the late seventies, Banana Republic started selling safari clothing. This included pith helmets, photographers’ vests, safari clothing, etc.
Their first store in Beverly Hills featured a World War II army jeep in the front window. There were life-sized elephants and giraffes between clothes and a bush plane suspended from the ceiling. The store also had live tropical plants and a stream that ran down the middle of the sales floor. In 1987, the stock market crashed, and Gap decided to ditch the safari wear idea from the founders. The founders also chose to sell their stake in the business. It took years for Banana republic to become the business casual wear store today.
Gap vs Banana Republic – Gap History
Gap is a quintessential American clothing company raised in the Bay Area. It started with Donald and Doris Fisher, desperate to find some fit jeans. Because of their struggle, the company raised $63,000 to open its store. The goal was to attract a younger generation of buyers looking to buy comfortable, cheap, and durable jeans. In 1969, the Fishers officially opened the Gap retail store on San Francisco Ocean Avenue. The Fishers made a deal with Robinson to sell only Levi’s products while he paid an advance in the Gap’s radio advertising. The Fishers agreed to this.
To attract the younger shoppers to their store, they kept LP records next to the jeans. Down the Line, Gap opened its second store in San Jose. This store was 6,600 square feet, and he directed half of the space at stocking products. Finally, in 1971, the founders opened Gap’s corporate office in Burlingame, California. Donald owed the company’s success to his early realization that while there was demand, pricing was important. Therefore, he always kept the prices low while providing different jeans sizes.
Within two years of the first store, Gap brought in $2.5 million in yearly revenue. The brand gained vast recognition and opened more stores across the U.S. By 1976, Gap had made over $100 million.
Gap’s Expansion Over the Years
Due to the brand’s success from its first store, the company started creating its apparel line in 1970. The brand’s products constituted 45% of the wholesale of the company. The 1980 sales were almost $500 million. Soon, the Gap brand became the company’s mainstay while they pushed other brands into their background. This was quite a risky move for the founders, as they started by selling only popular brands. After Gap witnessed a fall in profits for a year, the movie turned out successfully. The brand crossed $1 billion in sales for the first time. The number of stores owned by Gap was up to 950 across the country.
In addition to this, the company also had several successful subsidiaries like the Banana Republic, Gap Kids, Old Navy, and more that focused on different categories of people. It was quite a success, and Gap became one of the most profitable retailers in the world. In 2008, Gap already had 130,000 employees and over 3,050 stores. Today, the Gap brand is available in over 50 countries across the globe. The Fishers remain involved in the company. Donald served as Board chairman till 2004, while Doris and their son started serving on the board. When Donald Fisher stepped down, Robert moved in to succeed his father.
Gap spread its wind faster of the two brands in the Gap vs. Banana Republic comparison. Gap had a presence in Japan, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Mexico, Hong Kong, Italy, etc. In addition, the brand had major brands it controlled, and some of them were the Banana Republic and Old Navy.
Gap’s Best Clothes
Gap clothes have been in trend and don’t seem to be going anywhere. This fashion brand has offered classic, top-quality essential and capsule wardrobe pieces. Despite the new competition, Gap seems to be retaining its relevance by ensuring its men’s and women’s section stays stocked with the best option. Below are some of the best Gap pieces you shouldn’t ignore in this Gap vs Banana Republic comparison.
High Rise Barrel Jeans with Washwell
Gap is jumping on the barrel leg trend, and people love it. Although this denim style closely resembles mum jeans, it has less taper and a slightly wider leg. In addition, these high-rise barrel jeans come in different sizes for people to choose from. So you can style it for casual or corporate wear if you prefer.
Jersey Knit Scoopneck T-Shirt
This is the top for you for shoppers on the lookout for a fitted tee with a unique sleeve. The mid-sleeves that this tee feature gives shoppers a 90s feeling. It comes in varying vibrant colors and sizes to provide you with options. In addition, the t-shirt comes from a fabric that comes with the perfect weight. This t-shirt is a clear example of Gap’s experience in offering fitting fashion items.
Oversized Anorak Parka
This is an oversized jacket for those that need something for those in-between season days that you cannot ignore. It is a large jacket made with a cotton-nylon blend that helps to keep it lightweight. This anorak parka fits different weather conditions and comes with drawstrings at the waist. The hood on the jacket also works to give it an outdoor look.
Sweater Midi Skirt
Ever worn a sweater made for your legs? Well, Gap gives you a chance to with the sweater midi skirt. This ribbed sweater provides wearers with a chic look. You can either wear this sweater midi skirt with a matching knit top to give off a monochrome look or match it with other fabrics for a vibrant contrast. It is a cotton-blend knit, and its pencil silhouette works to add polish to your outfit of the day.
The Banana Republic Best Fashion Pieces
This Gap vs Banana Republic comparison won’t be complete without a look at some of the best fashion pieces from Gap. As one of Gap’s brands, Banana Republic offers shoppers endless options of chic looks from casual to workwear. Below is a selection of the best fashion pieces from the Banana Republic.
Turtleneck Sweater Dress
The Turtleneck sweater dress comes from soft merino wool that shoppers don’t even have to dry clean. It is a warm dress that’s stylish and offers a chic design. This sweater dress is ideal for the transitional spring days that are not too hot or cold. Its relaxed fit looks flattering on the wearer, and you can wear it through the seasons.
The Banana Republic Essential Tee
This essential tee option is excellent if you want to wear it independently or layering. It comes in 11 color shades and different sizes. The essential tee comes from spandex, cotton, and Tencel. It is pretty soft and offers wearers a second-skin fit that makes it versatile and comfortable. In addition, it comes with a longer fit, making it easy to tuck into skirts and jeans without worrying about the tee riding up.
Linen-Cotton Chore Coat
This coat is the ideal layer when transitioning between summer and fall. Although this option looks heavy, it is pretty light. It was made with linen and therefore stays breathable while serving as a casual piece. In addition, it features a linen-cotton blend that helps it feel soft. This Linen-Cotton Chore Coat has one deep-set breast pocket and two front patch pockets. It also offers a hidden pocket in the front to keep your essentials safe. This coat comes in different colors, and you can pair it with jeans or chinos for a casual or workwear look.
Satin Slip Dress
This fashion piece is flattering, soft, and sexy. It is a bias-cut midi dress that’s great for a day out or an evening dress. It offers wearers a luxurious feel, and it is form-fitting in the right places. The color choices are limited to cranberry, black, and chestnut brown. The dress offers a satin sheen and a scoop neck, making it easy to pull on.
This Gap vs Banana Republic comparison walks you down the memory lane to how both companies started and expanded over the years. We also explore some of the best outfits you can expect from both brands to understand how their designs differ. Although Gap and the Banana Republic are two fashion retail brands, they’re both unique in their way, as explored in this article.