From ancient Egyptian headdresses to today’s modern ones: all civilizations have had some sort of hat throughout the millennia. Straw, wool, felt or fur, leather or bamboo; giant, tiny, witty or serious: hats can take on an infinite number of variations, crowned on any head, whether an emperor or a beggar. Do you know the history and characteristics of this fascinating accessory? Here are five facts you probably did not know about hat-making!
1. From repair tool to cultural symbol
The hat was born in ancient Egypt as a small hood designed to repair the head. It then travelled through Greece and Asia, and reached the rest of Europe. It soon became a cultural symbol, an expression of creativity and originality. Until after the Second World War, nobody ever left the house bareheaded. It didn’t just protect you from the weather: the hat immediately revealed the wearer’s position in society, his job, or even his political thought.
2. The European capitals of hat making
During the Belle Epoque years, the capital of women’s fashion for headgear was Paris, as was London for men’s. In the early 20th century, hats became a pride of Made in Italy, and hat-making became an important branch of the Italian economy. This happened thanks to companies such as Borsalino, founded by Giuseppe Borsalino in 1857 in Alessandria (Piedmont). His felt hats were appreciated worldwide, including the Fedora model that achieved fame thanks to iconic people who wore it. One example? Humphrey Bogart in the film ‘Casablanca’!
3. The best hat museums
If you love hats and like unusual museums, you will find some exciting gems in Italy! Examples include Museo del Cappello di Montappone (Marche) and Museo della Paglia e dell’Intreccio di Firenze (Tuscany). Here, among many curiosities, you will discover the secrets of straw hats, an Italian glory of typicality since the 18th century. If you are in Piedmont, do not miss Museo del Cappello di Ghiffa and Museo del Cappello Borsalino.
4. Hats that mix quality, traditions and eco-sustainability
Italy continues to be at the forefront of hat-making even today, innovating while celebrating ancient traditions. For example, the Italian brand SUPERDUPER, founded in Tuscany in 2011, challenges the standard operating model of fashion e-commerce. Its signature method allows a team of young artisans to make all online purchases to order, reducing waste and excess inventory while maintaining the highest quality. They create a bespoke hat in 72 hours and stitch an Earthpiece™ onto every item to mark it as a unique handmade piece and to remind us to give back to nature.
5. Professional hat-making courses
Do you admire SUPERDUPER’s model and want to become a hatmaker who blends expertise, quality, fashion and sustainability? Then you can sign up for Studiainitalia’s professional hat-making courses in collaboration with this successful hat brand!
We offer two 12-week hat-making courses in Florence: they take place in SUPERDUPER’s creative studio and workshop at Manifattura Tabacchi. You can find all the information about our professional hat-making academy here.
Opening photo: Englishman in the Campagna, painting by Carl Spitzweg