The Story of the Stripe

Initially launched in 1898, the Oshkosh Trunk Company quickly grew into an internationally recognized luxury goods brand during the pre-war golden age of travel. The signature Chief stripe pattern could be spotted on ocean-crossing steamers and in the lobbies of the world’s finest hotels.

The Chief stripe’s origins date back to canvas diplomatic pouches used by Spanish embassies in the Americas in the 19th century. After their defeat in the Spanish-American War, Spain lost her remaining American territory and a U.S. mill suddenly found itself carrying an excess stock of red and yellow striped canvas. The Oshkosh Trunk Company bought the overstock to use as a base layer to be painted over, then sold. Not until a buyer from Marshall Field & Company spotted a few unpainted trunks and placed an order for them did they appear in stores. From here, the Chief stripe would become unmistakable and synonymous with the Oshkosh brand.

At its height, Oshkosh Trunk was available around the world and in major American stores like Macy’s and Neiman-Marcus. The brand eventually opened three flagship stores on 34th Street in New York, Regent Street in London and the Champ Elysees in Paris. Yet, with the dawning of the Jet Age, Oshkosh failed to recognize a changed customer, closing shop in the early 1960s.


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