FAQ and News
What is a Panama Hat?
A Panama hat is a traditional brimmed straw hat from Ecuador. They are made of Toquilla straw which is from the leaves of the Carludovica palmata plant, indigenous to South America.
In the 1800s workers on the Panama Canal wore these hats to protect themselves from the sun and heat. Travelers and merchants who purchased the hats in Panama were invariably asked where “did you get your hat” to which the answer was Panama. This was of course before the days of carefully placed stickers inside the hat saying “handwoven in Ecuador” so these hats came to be known as “Panamas”
The traditional weaving of hats in Ecuador dates back to as early as 500-1500 BC. UNESCO has added the art of weaving a Panama hat in Ecuador to their list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Intangible Cultural Heritage is a term used for knowledge, traditions and rituals which permeate the everyday life of a community, are passed down through generations and form an intrinsic part of their identity and culture.
Panama hats can take from a few hours to a few months to make. The finest of them can contain around 3000 weaves per square inch – a hat like that will set you back around USD25000.
Genuine Panama hats meet these criteria: Hand crafted in Ecuador and made from Toquilla palm straw.
A true Panama hat is a handmade work of art. No two hats are alike. There will be slight imperfections in colour, weave and finish. These are the result of nature or the artisan's hand and is part of what makes these hats unique. Contrary to popular belief, most styles of authentic toquilla straw Panama hats should never be rolled. Rollable Panama hats are a very particular kind of Panama and need to be expertly woven and shaped in a certain way to be safely packable. These hats can sell for many hundreds, indeed thousands of dollars. You can buy cheaper versions, but these will not perform as well. Most Panama hat makers do not recommend rolling and consider it a bit of a gimmick. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
All of the Panama hats sold by Hattitude are the genuine article! Check out this very informative video.
Do you only sell hats for men?
We have a very limited selection of hats just for women, the rest of our hat's however are unisex. In fact the Fedora, typically thought of as a mens hat first appeared in an 1882 production of a play called "Fedora." It was worn by the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt in the title role of Princess Fedora Romanoff. It was not until the 1920's that the hat was also adopted by men. So girls, come in and get amongst it!
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