The lightweight, woven hat is synonymous with timeless style the world over – but how much do you know about this classic summer accessory?
1. THEY LOOK CONTEMPORARY YET THEY HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR CENTURIES
Hat-weaving emerged in the early 1600s along coastal Ecuador, in small Andean villages. The popularity of these lightweight woven hats rose during the 17th and 18th centuries and the Ecuadorian artisans decided to take their trade further afield.
2. PANAMA HATS ARE NOT ACTUALLY FROM PANAMA THEY ARE FROM ECUADOR
The trade-seeking hatmakers made for Panama to take advantage of shipping routes and, in particular, Gold Rush miners, who bought their hats to take on prospecting adventures to California, telling anyone who asked that they’d found them in Panama. The name was settled in 1906 when a photo of President Theodore Roosevelt wearing his Panama hat whilst overseeing the building of the Panama Canal was printed in the New York Times.
3. PANAMA HATS ARE HAND-WOVEN
Fibres of Ecuadorian toquilla palm stems are separated, boiled to remove chlorophyll and left in the sun to dry; the fibres are then ready to weave by skilled weavers. The finer and more evenly-coloured the straw, and the denser the weave, the higher the quality of the hat. A single toquilla straw hat can take between one day and several months to complete!
4. SIMON ESPINAL TOOK EIGHT MONTHS TO WEAVE THE ‘WORLD’S FINEST PANAMA HAT’
The absolute best Panama hats are made with 3,000 weavers per square inch. That is a lot of work! Master weaver Espinal wove 4,000 weaves per square inch and worked for 1,000 hours to make his record-breaking hat. The strain on his eyes was so great, he reportedly said, that he will never attempt another such hat again.
5. THEY ARE LOVED BY THE RICH AND FAMOUS
The hat’s first came to the public’s attention with Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘The president’s hat’, but the hats today are also loved by celebrities. Meghan Markle, Cameron Diaz, Madonna, Johnny Depp, Sean Connery, Brad Pitt and even Prince Charles, have all been seen sporting a Panama hat.
6. PANAMA HAT WEAVING IS NOW PROTECTED BY UNESCO
This intricate, unique, skilled, and culturally significant process of drying, bleaching, washing, and weaving which goes into crafting a beautiful and genuine Panama hat is now considered a dying art. In 2012 it was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, which recognises “practices, representations, expressions, knowledge or skills considered to be part of a place’s cultural heritage.”
7. PANAMA HATS ARE INCREDIBLY LIGHTWEIGHT, SOFT, AND STYLISH.
The natural palm fibres and the fine weave makes it so lightweight easy to wear, that you will forget it’s on your head. The hats will keep your head cool in summer, allows plenty of airflow and protect your hairstyle. You can say goodbye to hot, sticky, and damp hair.
8. KNÜG OFFERS A CHIC AND COLOURFUL COLLECTION
Knüg's genuine Panama hats are enduring and sustainable style classics. Hand-woven in Ecuador by skilled artisans, they are crafted from sustainable toquilla palm. Comfortable and practical, they provide breathable sun protection, keeping you feeling and looking fresh and cool in the heat. Their crisp lines and versatility enhance any summer outfit with class and style.
Lightweight, yet sturdy, our hats are packable and feature a centre dent, a high-pinched crown, and a heightened brim at the front for sun protection and elegance. An interior reinforcement is added to prevent cracks from excessive pinching.
View our beautiful new collection, including the classic cream and white versions, along with a myriad of brighter shades for those looking for a contemporary edge.
Tir Dhondy, Presenter, Vice Media. Panama Hat by Knüg.