Panama Hat Guide — Gentleman’s Gazette

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What is a Panama hat?
Basically, it is a white summer hat that is woven from the straw of the Toquilla Palm. Even though it’s called Panama hat, it’s originally made in Ecuador and it has never been made in Panama. In Ecuador, it’s better known as the SOMBRERO DE PAJA TOQUILLA which means as much as a straw hat. Panama hats have been woven in Ecuador since the 17th century and they’ve been imported since the 19th century to Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

So how did the Panama hat got its name?
During the 1834 Gold Rush in Canada, when miners went from South America to Canada, they saw those hats in Panama and so they got their name. On top of that, Theodore Roosevelt popularised the hat style and even cemented the Panama name when he was wearing one observing the Panama Canal and of course, being photographed.

So how is a Panama made?
Basically, you take the core fibers of the toquilla plant which are also known as cogollos. The cogollos are the hearts of the palm tree and they’re carefully separated by hand and then briefly boiled. Since they’re wet, they have to be sun-dried or air dried and once that’s done, the fiber is bleached with sulfur smoke to give it the original Panama light color. Sometimes, you can also find uncolored hats but they have a much more yellow appearance. To get really fine hats, the palm tree fibers are split into even finer straw fibers. The weaving of a Panama hat begins at the center of the crown. Once the crown is large enough, it’s put in a dry pot and woven on top of a hat block at about waist height. Once the weave extends past the size of the hat block, the weaver adds additional blocks on top and pulls down the weave so it stays in place and it gets that hat shape. The entire process is physically quite tiring and depending on how fine your hat is, it can take anywhere from a few weeks up to several months to create one hat. Once the weaver gets to the edge of the brim, it’s typically handed off to other artisans who finish the hat. Traditionally, a Panama hat has a loose back weave which is much more elegant than a cut and sewn edge. So when you want a quality hat, look for that edge because if it’s back woven, it’s of a much higher quality than if it’s cut and sewn. Typically, you have one person who starts the back weave, a second one that tightens it, and the third one cuts off the loose straw so it has a polished nice finish. If you have a very fine hat, they keep that excess straw and use it to maybe make repairs later. In the next step, the hats are washed and bleached with sulfur to make them softer and more suitable to wear as a wonderful summer hat. Subsequently, the hats are blocked or either brought to the US to head blockers who then get the hat the right shape. In my experience, the hats that come directly out of Ecuador usually have a very small range of different styles and shapes and are very limited. Because of that, quality Panama hats are usually brought raw at this stage to the US or to other countries which are then blocked by an experienced head blocker who can get exactly the shape the customer demands. Traditionally, every Panama hat was woven by hand but due to a high demand, most hats these days are machine woven.

WATCH THE VIDEO TO CHECK OUT SVEN RAPHAEL’s FAVORITE PANAMA HATS!
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Comments

Myles Yoshimoto says:

Wow didn’t know that.

1978ajax says:

I send most of my time in Australia, where it can be expected to be hot and sunny most of the time. Panamas are unpopular here; they just don’t stand up to regular use at all well, and a decent one is _many_ times the cost of proper sun / heat hats made of fur felt, notably the famous Akubra of course. Only the ‘Planter’ style has a brim wide enough to be truly useful in sunny climes, and the prices for decent examples of the ‘Planter’ are through the roof!
When I first came to Australia 30 years back, I bought a very good Planter Panama simply because that’s what I thought a sun hat was. It was a wreck not much more than a year later, and I bought a proper hat instead – which I have still got and have used virtually every day since!
When you look at their popularity in history, it’s worth remembering that Panamas were formerly nowhere near as relatively expensive as they are today, and they could in those days be replaced easily and economically. Not so now.
I guess standard-size Panamas are fine for occasional use in places where there is a limited summer season of heat, and as a summer substitute for other forms of fashion hat, and I agree that they _can_ look good, but they are an incredible waste of money in a really hot place.

Kaleb Hendrikse says:

Is that a tear in the vintage hat?

Galahad says:

You should make new in depth guides to style like the ivy, preppy, etc

stef says:

Nice hats, problem is they often won’t last more than one summer. Eventually they end up being stolen or wrinkled after a bbq or trip to the beach. (I blame alcohol)

Ed F says:

Excellent video! I learned so much about Panama Hats; I now feel compelled to add one to my wardrobe. I particularly enjoyed learning the history of Panama Hats. I’m curious as to how many hours it took you to make this extremely informative and fun to watch video. Thanks, Ed

Roy Jiminez says:

Hilarious!! He’s wearing a seersucker suit, He’s the sucker who bought it from Sears.

Sindbad says:

Just as I was about to get myself a panama hat.

Alex Radiocity says:

Right in time! Thank you.

James Hall says:

At 10:24 nice.. love the look.

Snow The White Fox says:

yup they’re made in Ecuador just like me jajaja.

Benjamin Harrison Gray says:

My go-to hat.

youssoupha fall says:

Extraordinaire beauté Pour la classe D’elegance dans l’air des beaux jours. Totale MERCI l’artiste ” Top Classe “

johan iskandar says:

Do one regarding Panama Suits or Tropical Suits please sir….. I live in a very hot climate but would love to wear a suit that’s fashionable and lightweight….
Thanks!!

Javier Barrientos says:

Panama was from Colombia before it was taken and “liberated” to build the Chanel so it is Colombia hat… best regards

Ramón García says:

Paja must be pronounced as paha with the j sounding in a similar way than the h in hollow

Gary Nelson says:

Sven you haven’t mentioned the colonial design. What are your thoughts on this design?

John the Voice says:

Really enjoyed this video! Big fan of the Panama hat!

Marshall Roe says:

Crazy! On Saturday I came across Panama I bought while on port call in Panama, and began to wear it once more! looks phenomomenal with my outfits. Great Minds think alike!

Der Alte says:

From The Panama Hat Company: “Another interesting aspect of its history is the tradition of the black band with which the majority of Panamas are trimmed. This originates from its most popular period in 1901, the year of the death of Queen Victoria.”
Other source a bit more clear: “The traditional black band on a Panama hat was added in mourning for Queen Victoria after her death in 1901.”
I consider the old black band extremely classy, and reminds me of my grandpa, a great, rustic man that loved the Panamas my godmother (his daughter) gave to him.

Daniel Oshima says:

Fascinating video. Thanks so much

Dick Wood says:

Wow great timing. I was thinking about buying one and was just about to purchase one on line.

Nathan Robert says:

New editor on duty?

Hip Hop 90s says:

First Like Then Watch

TomiSlav says:

You could wear my hat and call me Raphael

Arcane Wisdom TV says:

There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. This isn’t good style or fashion, this is excentricity. You seem like a nice guy, but odd. Dressing and acting like this would be amusing to most people, hardly the desired effect I am looking for.

Kerry Thomas says:

I own a couple of Panamas including an Optimo.

ed zhao says:

Ha. Just received my Optimo Panama hat from the Panama Hat Company! A great little Cuenca.

Vivek Booshan says:

Just so you know i haven’t been able to find your videos on my recommended feed

Bernal M says:

Raphael, I’d like to know your opinion on something. I don’t own any black clothes, and I wear mostly blues, greens, khakis/browns and sometimes yellow. I’d like to add black to my wardrobe but I’m not really sure about how to pull it off or what to combine it with. Something that I’m interested in are black chelsea or Beatle boots, what tips or warnings do you have about them?
Thanks in advance!

zoukatron says:

Was this video skipping about for anyone else?Might have been an editing issue. Otherwise a nice video, I think would have good to show how an optimo/colonial is rolled as well.

aintnomeaning says:

I love Panama hats, but sweat stains are always a problem for me with this category of summer hat…any suggestions? BTW, your socks and driving glove are FABULOUS!!!

Lee Sanderson says:

HOW MUCH??!!!! Sod that! Too expensive.

Hassaan Haider says:

I will report! Ur video ! Tell the people a easy and less expensive! Way so that they can buy good quality! Jata with less price. There are alots of hats foe cheap price than ur hat! Stop promoting! The advertisement! Think which u have sponsored in ur video! I cam report ur video and channel seriously! My friend father work in utube privacy policy. So can report! U! It’s not ur 1st mistake in almost all of your video u typically promote some specific expensive product or items while here are more cheap and much popular products for low than your price . Also i have noticed that you delete people comments! Because they give u suggestions and u don’t listen them and ignore them. Alot channel like
*Alpha M. & RMRS* not give so expensive suggestions for clothing items. Btw it’s essay to report u because u have not reached 1M subscribers . My friends father is in usa! And ur channel is registered in usa location. So nxt be careful!

Jean Raspail says:

Perfect, I just started looking to buy one for the summer.

amjp905 says:

It is interesting that you prefer a tall and classic crown because I always searched for a smaller one ince I am tall anyways.

Liviu Vigu says:

Perfect timing i stated to look for a Panama hat yesterday, thank you very much Raphael.

carlos laguna says:

Nice hats, thanks for the info I always thought it was from Panama, got to get one of those

Dakota Hampton says:

Never been a big hat wearer, but this is really cool to learn about it! I may consider wearing one in the future.

Fernando Maldonado says:

These hats are incredible. It is an honor that you mention them on your channel. In addition to these hats, in my country we also have spectacular wool fabrics, jackets and leather shoes of the best quality (sorry for those who are against the use of leather). Greetings from Ecuador.

-hard gamer- says:

Do you think every age can wear this?

Henning OW says:

I ordered something from your store 3 months ago still hasnt been shipped when can i expect the order to arrive? pls respond

mrkoolzaad2 says:

Love my Panama hat.

Jeremiah Bok says:

Wow, I knew zip about Panama hats and now I love them. What a process, and so clean and dapper looking. Thanks for the lovely work.

MG says:

Skip this if you are under 35-40

Bobby Tarantino says:

Yessss Raphael this is exactly the video I was hoping for!!!

Michael DeLaMarre says:

Was this video accidentally sped up during editing, or is he talking faster than normal? Is it just me or did anyone else notice?

Galahad says:

Make a boater hat guide

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