Banana Republic is an American clothing brand founded by Mel and Patricia Ziegler in 1978 as a tropical travel-themed clothing company; it has subsequently transformed into a mainstream luxury clothing retailer. The fashion brand offers modern, refined clothing for men and women, plus shoes and accessories. The first store was a two-store safari and travel themed clothing company. The majority of sales came from its eccentric, hand-illustrated catalog, which presented high-end and unique items with chatty, usually fictional backstories from exotic locations, as well as more pedestrian high-volume products deliberately spiced up with a similar treatment. The company was bought by Gap in 1983 and now operates as a division. The brand today has over 600 stores located internationally as fully owned or franchised with operations across 32 countries and shipped to 20 countries through company owned websites.