“Tell me about Panama hats”

Hello fine ladies and gents,

Hats worked on: 40 new Cuenca straw arrived, priced and sized!

Weather: Medium blah in the city…hot hot hot everywhere else.

Coffee: 0, I am drinking tea today!

As I sit down to write this, my head is swirling with facts and mind-blowing history….See, we received the Cuenca straw yesterday, direct from Ecuador,  so I thought I would read some “Panama, a legendary hat” and share a few tid-bits two. My goodness its a long history!

Did you know?

Preparing the “straw” before weaving takes weeks and as much skill as the weaving itself. The “toquilla” fiber is made of the shoots of a plant in the palm family. The shoots are cut from the plant at just the right time, when they are young and strong, then cut into ribbons, boiled, dried in the wind, out of the sun, sorted, washed again, dried again….  it goes on and on…  All that before any weaving begins!

panama straw drying

And did you know that Napoleon III was given a fine straw hat and then never took it off! (maybe)

And did you know?

Panama hats have always been from Ecuador, despite being named for another country. The Panama canal was dug while the Ecuadorian straw hats were rising in fashion (and necessity…its hot digging a canal!) and the confusion was born. As the world was talking about this amazing “straw cloth” as the supreme in elegance in Paris at the world’s fair of 1855, and President Roosevelt visited the construction of the Panama canal while sporting an Ecuadorian straw in 1906, the Panama myth became legend.

The photo that sealed the deal:


Cuenca is a city in Ecuador that was one of the first to organize the weaving process for the purpose of exporting to the world. The straw bodies (un-finished hats) we just received is from there…  and they are nice!

Okay, enough lessons, time to get back to work!


Stay classy folks,

– Paul 5