RESURRECTING A LOST QUALITY
Per capita hat sales peaked around 1914 in the United States, and soon thereafter in many countries around the globe. The main reason for this initial decline in hat wearing was the automobile.
Hats were well understood at that time for their utility. They needed to be worn for warmth, and for protection from the rain, snow and sun, depending on the season. But with the invention and rapid adoption of the automobile as a means of personal transportation, people spent less time outdoors.
Hats remained hugely popular and an essential part of proper dressing for the next few decades. The finest quality hats were produced in the great hat factories around the world in the 1930s and ’40s. The industry was enormous then, and the top brands competed on quality. This competition led to finer and finer grades of hats as the techniques, tools and machines of the craft became more refined.
Sadly, the decades following the 1940s witnessed a rapid deterioration in quality. As the popularity of hats declined, fewer manufacturers competed on quality, instead focusing on price. More and more “pre-shaped” hats came on the market, which can be likened to a clip-on tie. They lacked the elegance, character and quality of earlier hats. This created a snowball effect. Hats became cheaper and “disposable.” The qualities of what previously defined a great hat were forgotten by many. Large factories, small hat shops and renovators closed their doors, and good quality hats began to die out. It is this lost quality from the middle of the last century, we are here to resurrect.
Creasing a hat is a nearly forgotten ritual. Fine hats from the early 20th century until about the 1940s were often …
MAKING AN OPTIMO FELT
Proper hatmaking involves dozens of steps, from the felting of fine furs, through shaping, surface finishing and trimming …
Good craft is seamless and invisible. It shows no evidence. It is refined, uniform and balanced …