The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum

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.

The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 2
Lobby and elephant

The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 1


The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 3 (1)
The collection on paper
The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 2
Partitions during setting up.
The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 6
History room
The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 5
“How-to-enjoy” the museum in Japanese.
The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 3
Selection of uncut bandannas leading the way to the 2nd floor.
The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 2 (1)
Trunk Up
The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 1 (1)
Trunk Down


The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 1
During the set-up phase
The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum 4
The first floor showcase area



7 thoughts on “The Elephant Brand Bandanna Museum

  1. awesome info. i really think i have a few that belong in your museum. i have some trunk downs with skulls and from tye dye to black in colors. a man at a garage sale schooled me on them and then the following weekend i was at the flea mkt in santa fe and some dude had two boxes of 400 each. the second box nobody had been through til me. i bought 45 elephant and ten that were older. i know they are worthy but need some direction.

  2. Very interesting museum. I created in India, a collection of organic indigo hand dyed bandannas on handloom cotton, just like the originals might have looked 300 years ago. It might be and interesting addition to the existing collection as I have photographs of the process of the artisan I worked with.

    I can send you a pdf with all the historical and technical info if interested.


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