Panama Hats from Village Hats
Panama hats are not from Panama but from the low lands of western S. America, primarily Ecuador. You also may know that a panama hat is made from panama straw (Latin name Carludovica palmata or local common name paja toquilla), and therefore a panama hat is not a style but rather a hat from this particular straw material. Panama hats are blocked in virtually any style. The quality of panama hats can vary significantly. A novice buyer should be careful when buying a fine quality panama hat; the retail market is neither clear nor consistent regarding grading and pricing. Because panama hats can vary considerably in price, we have included a quick rundown of why the price varies so much.
First, prices are usually determined by the fineness of the weave. The straw used to make panama hats can continually be made thinner, or finer, by dividing the strand of straw in half. Every time the straw width is halved (via fingernail), the amount of work required to weave the hat is multiplied four times. Second, you may see some sellers mentioning Cuenca, Brisa or Montecristi panama hats. These are cities in Ecuador, but it does not guarantee that the hat originated from there or that it is of a certain quality. For instance, Montecristi is synonymous with the finest Panama hats in the world; but, be careful because qualities vary considerably even with hats from Montecristi. We only try and use these specific names if we are assured by our manufacturers that the hats came from those cities and are of a quality usually associated with that name. with these two major points covered, we should now be able to move on to pricing.
(£30 - £50) Panama hats priced from 30 to 50 pounds will take a few days to weave and are typically considered to be between grades of 3 and 5 (these grades can vary from merchant to merchant so please understand that grades are only a rule of thumb). (£60 - £100) Panama hats priced from 60 to 100 pounds can take a week to a month to weave and are typically considered to be between grades of 5 and 10. (£100 and up) Panama hats priced from 100 pounds and up can take months to weave. Due to the fineness of the weave, only a select few weavers have the skill to make these. These panama hats are typically considered to between grades of 10 and up.
With all that out of the way, we have panama hats from the finest manufacturers in the world. Hats that are made in the western regions of South America are then shipped to UK manufacturers such as Olney and Christys whose panama hats are finished off right here in England. There are also European manufacturers such as Borsalino and Signes whose panama hats are finished off in their factories in Italy and Spain. We also carry famous America manufacturers such as Stetson and Bailey who block and finish their panama hats in the US. Last but not least, we have our own Jaxon & James brand which carries panama hats blocked and finished by factories in both the US and in the EU.
I hope this helps somewhat. If you buy one, know you’re buying a hand made item with centuries of tradition. Click the following for information on panama hats and determining quality