There was a time in the not-so-distant past when a man’s head, whilst outside, would always be covered by a hat. Go back a bit farther and one discovers that much of the new world, or at least Canada, was discovered due to an insatiable British desire for felt hats made from beaver pelt. Fast forward to the sixties where the entire plot of Le Samourai hinged on the fact that he wore a specific style of fedora and you begin to see just how important hats have been in both fashion and general world history.
As a hat person myself I’ve loved the new interest in headwear, as more varied styles become widely available and specialty hat shops open and remain open. And the renewed interest has lead to innovative collaborations.
Leading the way is British hat manufacturer Kangol. In April they teamed with Junya Watanabe of Comme des Garçons, who sent his models down the runway with Classic Cabbies fabricated out of his signature patterns.
Then in September they worked with Rickey Kim of Evil Monito to update two of their classic looks. Kim’s versions of the Felt Fedora and the Classic Cabbie retain the traditional Kangol lines; he innovates on the inside where he has silk screened photographs from his own family collection. And, perhaps justifying its $160.00 price tag, the fedora comes with a space invaders-inspired hat box and four pins.
For someone just starting out the number of choices can be overwhelming. The fedora is a good starter hat, as it tends to go with almost anything (although one might want to avoid the Pete Doherty habit of wearing his Trilby to style death). The Brixton Gain fedora will give you the style without raiding your bank account.
The Goorin Rude Boy adds a feather to the mix and is on sale now for $37.50.
Other safe bets from the Goorin line, hat makers since 1895, include the grey tweed Suzuki, the plaid Mondavi, or the poorly named but still interesting leather/snakeskin Boom Boom.
David Colman in the New York Times attributes the rise of the fedora to none other than Brad Pitt. Pitt has been in the fashion news again for wearing a hat, this time a newsboy; he tried selling them for his charity, Make It Right. Of course, wear anything too long and people might start to notice. The lesson, if there is one – coordinate your hats like the rest of your accessories, and use them sparingly. On the other hand, Pete Doherty once dated Kate Moss.