Review: Kapital ‘Rat Brand’ Fastcolor Selvedge Bandana

Introduction

Kiro Hirata, the creative director of Kapital, is a certified bandana nut. As the founder of the Elephant Brand Bandana Museum and author of ‘The Bandana Book’, he makes bandanas that you already know are going to be huge, California wildfire-like FLAMES πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to up my accessory game recently. After closely monitoring John Mayer’s Instagram and Getty Images feed, I decided to pick up two Kapital bandanas (shoutout Zenmarket sponsor the blog) to integrate into my wardrobe. Now that I’ve successfully done the John Mayer cosplay thing for a few months, I’m ready to give you all my thoughts.

Specifications

Size (Pre-wash/Post-wash):
Material: 100% Selvedge Cotton
Country of Origin: Japan
Price: 2484 Yen in Japan, typically ~$35 in the US
Purchasing Link: Kapital Webstore

The Review

Right off the bat, it’s evident that Kapital takes a lot of design cues from vintage Elephant Brand bandanas, for better or for worse. The most obvious one is that Kapital calls its line of bandanas the ‘Rat Brand’ as a homage to Elephant Brand, but with Kiro Hirata’s Chinese Zodiac animal — the rat — instead.

‘Rat Bandanna’ sticker

The ‘Fast Color’ designation also carries through here, signalling that Kapital thinks its bandanas hold their prints well. I have no reason to doubt that claim, as I’ve worn the bandanas out of my jeans’ back pocket or cargo’s thigh pocket for a few months now and the prints are still legible with minimal color loss.

To achieve this, Kapital uses discharge printing (basically screen printing with bleach) to redye the fabric with those strange yet beautiful patterns. Check these photos from their Instagram page showing their printing setup:

Speaking of patterns, on my olive drab bandana, the ‘DADS FAVORITE ADAGES’ Kapital has printed on it refer to phrases commonly passed down to boys in Japan. I see a good mix of both noble ideas like ‘don’t neglect your obligation’ and weird put-downs like ‘be a sucker’ — a translation error? Or maybe that last one is Kapital taking a progressive stance and standing with the gays through a coded message. Who knows?

Rectangular Kapital bandana with shorter selvedge side (left to right)

Another feature drawn from vintage Elephant Brand bandanas is its rectangular shape. Because it is not a perfect square, the back side of the bandana shows through a little when folded triangularly, making for a more visually interesting and voluminous aesthetic.

Back side showing through when folded triangularly

The material used here is a super thin, plain-weaved and hairy cotton that is silky smooth to the touch. Nothing really special here in terms of slub or nep. It also isn’t the most durable of materials, but it’s a necessary tradeoff for softness and vintage replication.

Is this cultural appropriation: Thunderbird symbols appropriated from various indigenous tribes

What holds the edges of that cotton together is simple stitching on three sides and a selvedge/self edge on the 4th. That’s right — the feature that makes your fancy and expensive as shit Japanese denim cool is also what makes this bandana cool. Now, instead of needing to hoisting your leg up onto a barstool to show the person you’re hitting on how cool your clothes (and thus you) are, you could just pull out that piece of cloth from your butt pocket to the same effect.

In the past, my readers have complained about the fact that I make way too many stupid jokes in my reviews, and yeah you right. I’m sorry. Please keep reading my blog. My entire self worth is predicated on the reaction to my writing. Please like me.

Tonal lock stitch on the side, blue selvedge on the bottom

Back to the review. The single row of stitching is not the most durable method of finishing the edges — I’ve seen overlock stitches on bandanas way cheaper than these — but Kapital sure loves its vintage so what do?

Conclusion

Kapital bandanas are pretty good in terms of quality, sure, but what really makes em unique is their huge selection of patterns and colors on offer. In an interview with Haven, a Canadian stockist of Kapital, Kiro Hirata said that he wants to “put as much passion into bandanas as my father put into jeans for his generation”, and he has definitely done so in my book.

Fit Check: bandana selvedge matching the top + bandana print matching the footwear + bandana green accent matching the cargo + rule of thirds accent at the cargo thigh pocket = graphic-designer level composition and color matching

Bandanas aren’t exactly the most popular of accessories in fashion right now, but I love ’em and I love Kapital ones the most.

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