Answers to questions we get about our store and Panama Hats in general.
I was told you can roll up a good Panama Hat.
Por favor, don’t do it! This is a myth unfortunately propagated by unknowing Ecuadorian merchants who hope they will never see their one-time customers again. Panama Hat fiber especially the “fino fino” fibers are cloth-like and supple moreso than any other palm or grass fiber. The “fino fino” Panamas truly have the texture of linen. But even so, if you roll up or fold a piece of good cloth, it will wrinkle. Won’t it? Well, so will Panama Hat fiber. It is a great fiber but not a miracle, permanent-pressed fabric.
Generally once a Panama Hat has been blocked, it should not be rolled up. Blocking is a process of shaping by steam and is usually done on a large mechanical metal press that forms that hat into its final shape.
But I rolled up my Panama hat for years and it looked fine.
Yea sure. We often hear people tell us this. But when we ask to see the hat, it looks like hell. It is folded, creased, squashed and sat-upon. I can roll up a Panama Hat and unfold it miraculously a few times. But to continuously fold or roll the blocked Panama Hat is not good.
Weren’t Panama Hats once shipped to this county in boxes?
Yes but back then in the 50’s and earlier, every town had a hatter who blocked Panama and felt hats. When purchased, these unfinished Panama hat bodies were blocked in the style of the customer’s choice. Unfortunately, all those hatters have retired or closed down. So if you are rough with your Panama Hat, there are very few qualified hat blockers in the country who can help you fix your damaged Panama Hat. So por favor be careful.
Why are they called Panama Hats if they are made in Ecuador?
Marketing and salesmanship. One hundred years ago very few tourists traveled to Ecuador. But at that time many people traveled to Panama, many to work on the Panama Canal. The Panamanians were and still are active merchants who found they could sell these very nice Ecuadorian hats to visitors. And those visitors who bought one of those nice hats came back home with a hat from Panama – a Panama Hat. The name stuck.
I think I’ll go to Ecuador where the hats are cheaper. Where should I go?
Good question. It takes years to find the best sources and weavers. Ecuador makes the best hat bodies but the United States still does the best job in finishing the hats. We get our hat bodies from Ecuador and finish them in the United States.