The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum is finally open. It has been a short journey, but a long time in the making. The current collection on display is of roughly 250 bandannas. The collection and museum is a product of Kiro Hirata’s passion and love of bandannas. I helped fill in the history, curate the bandannas, and added a few interesting pieces.
The age of the collection ranges from the 1850’s to the 1980’s; over 100 years of history. The collection starts with the beginning of the American bandannas coming from Scotland. From there, the navy and red bandannas from Davis & Catterall (Elephant Brand) tell the story of how the simple cambric discharged fabric was used as utility and then slowly became a part of fashion.
There are two floors full of bandannas. The first floor features non-branded RN# pieces, rodeo bandannas, and rare navy workwear brands. The second floor is all trunk up and trunk down elephant logo bandannas, a few rare other FAST COLOR brands, and 19th century Turkey Red bandannas. As Davis and Catterall was an OEM company there are many examples on both floors, of their work. The Museum is located next to the Kapital Soho store in Kojima, Okayama Japan.
As any other museum the collection is constantly improving. We are always open to accepting rare and interesting pieces to add to the collection.
The bandanna is an icon of America with a long and meandering history. Originating in India as the word for “tie-dyeing”, the colors and prints were embraced by the west. The Glasgow “Turkey red” cotton printing industry mass-produced the first bandannas we recognize today. It wasn’t until the 1900’s when a small company in New York City put an elephant brand on their product did the bandanna become truly American. The designs, colors, and prints have then since become a staple of Americana. There are innumerable designs, but the Elephant Brand has become synonymous with authentic American bandannas.
So if you find yourself in Okayama, please stop by Kojima (児島) and check out the museum.