Our History

Photos by Michael Filler, 1996
One year after Optimo's founding, photographer Michael Filler captured the first year of Graham Thompson's 7-year apprenticeship with Master Hatter Johnny Tyus.
Graham Thompson is the founder of Optimo. Thompson's designs are inspired by his deep respect for Chicago's rich heritage of enduring design, blues and jazz music.
Thompson has travelled to over a dozen countries in search of rare machinery, tools, raw materials and knowledge in a quest to achieve mastery of this craft.
On his journeys , Thompson has met with countless long-retired craftsman, plant managers, engineers, machine builders and fine felt and straw producers.
For more that a quarter century, Optimo has maintained their sole purpose to create the finest hat available--a hat that distinguishes the wearer and gets better with age.

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