Hello island lovelies,
Today we’re sharing our love of the quintessential summer attire item, the Panama hat.
Ironically the Panama hat comes from Ecuador, not Panama.
Hand woven by traditional methods from natural fibres of a palm-like plant – the Paja Toquilla.
The Panama hat was worn by construction workers on the Panama Canal to help shade the sun, and it inspired Europe when introduced becoming a fashion icon in itself by the likes of Van Gogh and Monet amongst many others.
Predominately worn in the 19th & 20th century, the Panama hat is known as the Prince of straw hats.
When you think of Panama hats you think of light weight summer suits of linen or silk – and if you’re English or American, you’ll certainly remember ‘the man from Del Monte – he say YES’ advertising campaign, of the mysterous man who travelled the world in his crisp linen suit and Panama hat ensuring quality control of fruit for Del Monte – such a classic.
They are also associated with seaside and tropical locales from the Cote d’Azur to the Caribbean. The Panama makes the perfect summer hat, light weight, breathable, light coloured and its clever design allows it to return to its original shape after being packed for travel.
Even though the wearing of hats has declined in the last few decades, the Panama has stayed with us as a summer classic and I expect it will continue and rightly so.
The Panama hat lends an air of quiet sophistication and is synonymous with tropical climates, sported by distinguished actors and sportsmen a like.
It takes up to 4 months to weave a true Panama hat but sadly not many are being produced in the original way in Ecuador, and the industry is said to be in such a decline that predictions are only 15-20 years left of production.
Less expensive varieties are now being made in Asia and it seems the Golden age of the true Panama may soon be over.
The very best Panama hats are made in Montecristi, fine hand-woven hats can fetch a price tag of $25,000 – they are works of art.
So fine is the weave the hat looks like it’s made of fabric not straw.
I personally think the Panama hat is a true summer classic and it deserves to stay with us as a symbol of cool island style.
I love the way the Panama hat is celebrated in this interior (above) – it says it all.
Happy Island Styling.
Images: Pinterest, The Original Panama Hat Co. Brent Black