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Thread: Shantung "straw" hats

  1. #1
    One Too Many DRB's Avatar
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    Shantung "straw" hats

    I found this interesting reading as I have been contemplating purchasing a straw hat. Please indulge me as I post the following information from:

    http://www.cowboyhatinfo.org/shantung_hats.html

    "Since the first use of Shantung (aka Shantung Panama) to make hats, the material remains widely a mystery. Many people believe that shantung hats are made of natural straw. It is actually made out of a high performance paper which is rolled into a yarn to imitate straw. Furthermore, many people believe that shantung paper yarn is made out of rice paper. Rice paper is actually a misnomer. Currently, there are no papers being made out of rice. Although, for the size papers made out of Kozo, Gampi and Mitsumata, rice starch was traditionally used. (This is probabaly where the name "rice paper" comes from.) Kozo, Gampi and Mitsumata were originally used to make the high performance paper. The paper was named "Washi" by the Japanese who perfected the technique in 610 AD after Korean Buddhist monks learned the Chinese technique and introduced it to Japan. (The Chinese invented the technique of making this paper during the first century.)

    Washi literally meaning "Japanese Paper," became famous worldwide for it's unique characteristics. Washi is thinner and lighter in weight yet stronger than any other paper. In recent years, because of quantity, availability, and tensile strength, washi is now mainly being produced with the Manila Hemp plant. (Musa Textilis, Abaca) The Manila Hemp plant is native to the Philippine Islands, but it can also be found in other parts of the world. (ie. Central America, Indonesia, Australia, Borneo, etc.) The majority of the world's production still remains largely in the Philippine Islands.

    In the mid-1900's, natural panama straw became scarce and hat manufacturer were in desperate need of finding a replacement. Washi was then introduced as an alternative and was perfect for making hats. Wanting a better name for the hat industry, "Washi" was renamed to "Shantung Panama". It quickly became widely accepted because of its similarity in looks to the natural panama straw. It was also very durable, light weight, and cost effective. Today, cowboy hat manufacturers mainly use shantung to make hats. Shantung hats now command more than 65% of the hat market."
    Pictures of My Colony of Fine Beavers. Now crafting my own "gentleman's city hats and westerns" of the finest quality. I do not do this as a business. Just a hobby for myself. Plus lots of needle felted items such as hats, blankets, feather displays, animals, and felt "paintings".
    https://picasaweb.google.com/1111987...vsrNDP3NH1tQE#

  2. #2
    One Too Many fmw's Avatar
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    Thanks for that. I have a couple shantung hats and I agree with the assessment. cost effective, light weight and durable. I also have a plastic hat (milan braid) and a couple panamas. All of them make efffective hats. While I have no issue with the use of shantung, I hate the use of terms like "genuine" shantung "panama" or 100% shantung. Terms like these attempt to make paper straw something more than it is when, truthfully, it is a perfectly good hat material and should be called "manufactured" straw or Philippino Straw or something that doesn't seem like a lie. No need to lie about a perfectly useful hat material. Great post. Thanks, again.

  3. #3
    I'll Lock Up The Wiser Hatter's Avatar
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    The latest Optimo from the Hatters bench has a good write up on the "golden" straw.
    http://www.optimohats.com/newsletter/issue3/

  4. #4
    Call Me a Cab monbla256's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmw View Post
    Thanks for that. I have a couple shantung hats and I agree with the assessment. cost effective, light weight and durable. I also have a plastic hat (milan braid) and a couple panamas. All of them make efffective hats. While I have no issue with the use of shantung, I hate the use of terms like "genuine" shantung "panama" or 100% shantung. Terms like these attempt to make paper straw something more than it is when, truthfully, it is a perfectly good hat material and should be called "manufactured" straw or Philippino Straw or something that doesn't seem like a lie. No need to lie about a perfectly useful hat material. Great post. Thanks, again.
    You make an EXCELLENT point about the veracity of material description!! Call it what it is, don't try to make be something else
    DRB,
    Thanks for posting that VERY informative info. Just shows a good hat material is just that ! No need to make it out to be something else

    as always, Onward thru the Fog

  5. #5
    One Too Many fmw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Wiser Hatter View Post
    The latest Optimo from the Hatters bench has a good write up on the "golden" straw.
    http://www.optimohats.com/newsletter/issue3/
    That's another good article. Modern day milan hats are made out of anything but wheat straw (with the exception of Optimo, apparently.) I would prefer that they clean up that description as well. My milan hat is braided from a synthetic polymer, not straw. But at least Stetson doesn't call it straw. They call it "milan braid." I'd rather have it called polymer braid or synthetic braid or "duralast" braid or something other than a material that was straw historically. That way, Optimo could make their true milan hats and not have to describe the difference.

    Besides, in my neck of the woods, wheat straw is something used to cover stall floors, not something to put on your head. I don't understand the fascination with wheat straw. We have bales of it. Anybody want to braid it?
    Last edited by fmw; 02-16-2011 at 12:41 PM.

  6. #6
    One Too Many DRB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmw View Post
    We have bales of it. Anybody want to braid it?
    Pictures of My Colony of Fine Beavers. Now crafting my own "gentleman's city hats and westerns" of the finest quality. I do not do this as a business. Just a hobby for myself. Plus lots of needle felted items such as hats, blankets, feather displays, animals, and felt "paintings".
    https://picasaweb.google.com/1111987...vsrNDP3NH1tQE#

  7. #7
    One Too Many DRB's Avatar
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    I agree, While I am sure that paper can be made quite strong, I do admit that I learned something when reading that article. Stetson Shantungs are beautiful, but I am looking for something special. It helped me decide which hat to get. Just ordered an Optimo Milan. ETA: March 19.

    Here is an honest, up front sales pitch:
    http://danshatsandcaps.com/index.php...roducts_id=110
    BORSALINO PAPER BRAID PANAMA $210.
    Last edited by DRB; 02-16-2011 at 05:22 PM.
    Pictures of My Colony of Fine Beavers. Now crafting my own "gentleman's city hats and westerns" of the finest quality. I do not do this as a business. Just a hobby for myself. Plus lots of needle felted items such as hats, blankets, feather displays, animals, and felt "paintings".
    https://picasaweb.google.com/1111987...vsrNDP3NH1tQE#

  8. #8
    One Too Many fmw's Avatar
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    I can't help but wonder what kind of value is built into a $210 paper hat. The Optimo should be excellent.

  9. #9
    I'll Lock Up Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DRB View Post
    It helped me decide which hat to get. Just ordered an Optimo Milan. ETA: March 19.
    Congrats. I think you're going to love it.

  10. #10
    One Too Many DRB's Avatar
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    Thank you, friends............
    Pictures of My Colony of Fine Beavers. Now crafting my own "gentleman's city hats and westerns" of the finest quality. I do not do this as a business. Just a hobby for myself. Plus lots of needle felted items such as hats, blankets, feather displays, animals, and felt "paintings".
    https://picasaweb.google.com/1111987...vsrNDP3NH1tQE#

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