LANGUAGE BARRIERS: TRILBY VS. FEDORA

When our American CEO moved to the UK years ago, he noticed quite a difference between the English language used here compared to the one in the US. You put on trousers, not pants. You catch the tube, not the subway. You grab a pint with mates, not a beer with buddies. And of course, you watch the football instead of soccer.

Fedora Hat or Trilby Hat?

As hatters, we have run into a few problems arising from this difference in language. First, we noticed that websites based in the UK were calling the Indiana Jones hat a trilby instead of a fedora. This was contradictory to everything we had known as American hatters. In the US, a trilby hat is a cut and sewn hat with a short brim, which looks more like what Sean Connery wears in the third Indiana Jones movie than what Harrison Ford wears. So of course, we were disconcerted as to what to name this classic hat on our UK site www.hatsandcaps.co.uk.

We spent many evenings checking what other sites were calling trilby hats and what they were calling fedora hats. Unfortunately, we noticed that it seemed to be at the companies’ discretion. There was no guideline or industry standard when it came to this. Each different hat manufacturer we met had their own opinion on the matter.

We encountered this same naming issue with other styles. In the States, Fancy dress hats are novelty hats. Flat caps are called ivy caps, and baker boy hats are newsboy caps. We were hoping to create a site easy to use and navigate and instead, we couldn’t even decide what to name our categories and products.

As of now, we still have no clear indication that there is an objective definition as to what a trilby and a fedora should be. So, we decided to make up our own definitions. That’s right; we put our foot down. At Village Hats, we are now saying, “trilby hats are 2 inches or less, fedoras are over 2 inches, period.”

Some may ask “Why choosing this random length of 2 inches?”. The answer is, as an online company, we have to try and market our hats to the public the best we can. But as hatters, we also want to hold on to some traditional industry lingo. We couldn’t bring ourselves to name a big brimmed hat like the Indiana Jones hat a trilby, it seemed contradictory to everything we had learned from many years in the business.

That is it. We leave it at that. If you have hard proof that can show us a trilby is x and a fedora is y, then we will gladly change our product names. Until then, we are sticking to our own made up terms, and hope that the world follows. Don’t get us started on whether or not it is a bowler or a derby.