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Vintage OshKosh Bandana Timeline

Three vintage Oshkosh bandannas

As a frequent shopper I’m often out & about, here & there looking high & low for vintage & antique inventory for one of my stores. (How’s that for a string of 2-word phrases in a single sentence?) Sometimes I notice that a theme of things shows up when shopping. One weekend it was accordions, another time it was old metal meat grinders. Any week could be a creepy-looking old doll fest or masses of owls, frogs or pigs… you get the idea. Sometimes the themes make sense because they were part of one persons collection, usually found at garage or estate sales. Other times similar things find me at different locations within a weeks time. This was the case recently with a group of vintage Oshkosh bandanas.

As you all must know by now, I have a thing for old bandanas. Imagine my joy last month when I found one, then another and finally a third old red Oshkosh handkerchiefs. None of these are new of course, and that makes me very happy. So often modern bandanas are made of cheap quality fabric or there’s something funny about the way it’s printed. Super-mass-production far from where the product design originates and constant cost-cutting makes that the norm these days and I understand the reasons behind it. That’s exactly why I choose to buy vintage products whenever possible or reasonable.

Classic polka dot Oshkosh bandana

Th first one (above) is the classic Oshkosh bandana pattern I most find most often; this one probably dates from the 80s-90s. A lovely red cotton with white polka dot border, the center proudly claims to be “worlds best work wear, union made”. Each corner says OshKosh b’Gosh” and the lower right corner simply says “100% cotton”.

Newer OshKosh paisley bandana

Next bandana sports a narrow diamond motif outer border with a wider paisley inner border and “OshKosh b’Gosh, The Genuine Article Since 1885” in the solid red center. It also says “100% cotton” in the lower right corner but this bandana just doesn’t feel as old as the others. I’m sorta dubious whether it’s true vintage or not but it’s awesome anyway and the quality is good. 

Genuine vintage red OshKosh work wear bandana

Finally this third OshKosh is definitely an older bandana. Made of red cotton, it has a nice ‘polka dotty’ border, large angled logos at all the corners and a large solid red center with the phrase “Fat or thin, short or tall, OshKosh B’Gosh fits ‘em all. OshKosh B’gosh work wear for men and boys”. No claims about being union made, no info in the corners, I’m not sure where this would fit in the ‘evolutionary’ OshKosh bandana dateline but it’s pretty awesome in spite of having a few tiny holes!

I find stuff like this super-interesting and hope you don’t mind my ‘geeking out’ about dating and such. Getting the dates right about vintage or antique items is important to me; just because something is used and looks old doesn’t mean it’s really a vintage item. The standard for something being truly vintage is that it’s at least 20 years old. But modern manufacturers have muddied the waters further by making vintage INSPIRED products and calling them vintage. Grrr! I spend a lot of time researching the things that I sell and agonizing about getting everything right so I’m rather strident about the whole age thing. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments about ages of my products. 🙂


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