The Untold Story of Banana Republic
Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781451683486, 208pp.
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
With $1,500 and no business experience, Mel and Patricia Ziegler turned a wild idea into a company that would become the international retail colossus Banana Republic. Re-imagining military surplus as safari and expedition wear, the former journalist and artist created a world that captured the zeitgeist for a generation and spoke to the creativity, adventure, and independence in everyone.
In a book that's honest, funny, and charming, Mel and Patricia tell in alternating voices how they upended business conventions and survived on their wits and imagination. Many retail and fashion merchants still consider Banana Republic's early heyday to be one of the most remarkable stories in fashion and business history. The couple detail how, as "professional amateurs," they developed the wildly original merchandise and marketing innovations that broke all retail records and produced what has been acclaimed by industry professionals to be "the best catalogue of all time."
A love story wrapped in a business adventure, Wild Company is a soulful, inspiring tale for readers determined to create their own destiny with a passion for life and work and fun.
"This is a wonderful book, a book about joy and guts and art. Mel and Patricia understand that a store is far more than just a place to buy stuff and that a business is far more than a way to make a living."
-Seth Godin, author of Linchpin
"Remarkable tale of creating one of the most cutting-edge fashion businesses in the world... a pleasure to read."
"The warmly inspiring account of how a journalist and an artist stumbled into business and founded Banana Republic, one of the most successful clothing chains in retail history... Told as a dual-voiced narrative that alternates between Mel’s and Patricia's points of view and illustrated throughout with sketches and images featured in the early catalogs, the story offers refreshing insight into the possibilities of achieving success and maintaining personal integrity in a hyperformulaic world. An unabashedly free-spirited celebration of the power of outside-the-box thinking."
“[Wild Company] uncovers an entertaining and enlightening history that provides a new understanding of what has now become a ubiquitous brand…. Wild Company gives us a reminder regarding the fickle nature of success in the world of entrepreneurs, and it does so with a friendly narrative that’s difficult to set aside….You most certainly don’t have to be a patron of the current Banana Republic to enjoy reading Wild Company.”
"This inspiring history offers a good reminder that the invention and dedication apparent in current tech start-ups is nothing new... Highly recommended."