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The best summer hat is the Panama hat
Did you know that the Panama hat does not come from Panama but from Ecuador? Many people think that the Panama hat comes from Panama because of its name. Panama is a country in Central America made famous by the Panama Canal. You know, that canal of more than 81 kilometers long that goes between North and South America (right through Panama). This canal connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean and is very important for shipping. Without the Panama Canal, the ships would have to sail all the way around South America and that would take thousands of miles.
The people who worked on the construction of the Panama Canal wore these hats against the bright sun. The work was intensive, it was humid and hot. The hats were therefore indispensable for the American workmen. When the workers went back to the US they took the hats with them and so the name 'Panama hat' was born. But nothing is less true. These stylish hats have been made in Ecuador's Manabí province for hundreds of years. Around 1850, these hats were transported to Panama to be shipped from there to Europe.
Most hats are made in Cuenca. The city council at the time (1836) wanted to give the local economy a boost and decided to have a hat factory built here. In the years that followed, Cuenca grew into the international center of the Panama hat industry.
The hat became known worldwide when President Theodore Roosevelt wore a Panama hat during the construction of the Panama Canal on November 16, 1906. A photo of it appeared in the New York Times and went around the world. But many other travel-loving celebrities, such as the British King Edward, Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway, also wore these hats. In Hollywood, Orson Welles, Gary Cooper and Humphrey Bogart walked away with it, followed by Dirk Bogarde in Visconti's film Death in Venice. Because of this, the name 'Panama hat' quickly became established in many countries, except Ecuador. Here the residents proudly call the hats 'Sombreros de Paja Toquilla', or hats made of toquilla straw.
The Sombreros de Paja Toquilla are made from extremely thin straw from the toquilla palm (Carludovica Palmata). This palm, which is actually not a real palm, grows in the tropical coastal area of Ecuador. The hats are braided by hand and are light in weight, comfortable and stylish due to the natural material. It takes about 2 days to make 1 hat. After braiding, the hat still needs to be washed, dyed or bleached. After that, the model must be pressed in and a sweat and decorative band is attached to it. It is a time consuming job but it is worth it!
The art of braiding is passed down from generation to generation and is a beautiful craft to watch. And did you know that on December 6, 2012 this craft of Panama hats was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage?!
Men & Women
In our store in Zutphen we sell the classic Panama hats for men and women! Rebecca and Andres love to wear them and José also thinks they are fantastic. We have the hats in different sizes so there is always one that fits you.
The Panama hat is a summer hat. This is not intended for rain, because the hat can tear during drying after it has become wet. Well, I think this is the only disadvantage of the hat because there are many advantages. The hat is very light in weight because of the material, airy because of the wickerwork and also sun-resistant. Perfect for a day at the beach, a stroll through town or a picnic in the park.
For the men, combine the hat with a linen or light colored blouse with denim (short) pants or neat chinos underneath. And for a more casual look, a t-shirt is also possible! Complete the look with a nice pair of sunglasses and voila! If you want a more daring outfit, just like Andres, choose to combine the hat with one of our ponchos. Andres is wearing the Quitu Red poncho in the photo below.
And for the ladies, wear the hat with your favorite summer dress with a nice pair of sandals. Or combine the hat with shorts or skirt with a summery blouse. Complete the outfit with a canvas or leather bag and sunglasses. Rebecca loves to wear the hat with our alpaca scarf lime green.
The best summer hat of the moment is the Panama hat. You see him more and more often. You see him a lot on the street, especially in Zutphen. The hat comes in more and more colours, prints and shapes, perfect for any occasion. Became curious? Come and visit us for a fitting session or view our site for more impressions.