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Any modern hat makers who make real Milan and/or Boater hats?

Genuine Classic Gangster

One of the Regulars
Messages
132
Location
Canada
I would like to buy some Milan hats, and also some Boater hats.

But I'm not aware of any hat makers who currently make real Boater hats.

As for Milan hats, I'm only aware of Optimo making them. But I've been on their waiting list to get one for several years already, and they have never offered me one (when I ask them about this, they say that their Milans are super rare and so that's why they never offered me one). And with their new price hikes, I probably wouldn't be able to afford one even if they did offer me one at this point.

So, can any of you give me any recommendations for any hat makers (aside from Optimo) who currently make real Boater hats and/or real Milan hats?

Or is there no such thing as that currently in 2022 (other than Optimo who sometimes makes Milans, even though they are almost impossible to get, apparently)?
 
Messages
15,310
Location
Central California
I would like to buy some Milan hats, and also some Boater hats.

But I'm not aware of any hat makers who currently make real Boater hats.

As for Milan hats, I'm only aware of Optimo making them. But I've been on their waiting list to get one for several years already, and they have never offered me one (when I ask them about this, they say that their Milans are super rare and so that's why they never offered me one). And with their new price hikes, I probably wouldn't be able to afford one even if they did offer me one at this point.

So, can any of you give me any recommendations for any hat makers (aside from Optimo) who currently make real Boater hats and/or real Milan hats?

Or is there no such thing as that currently in 2022 (other than Optimo who sometimes makes Milans, even though they are almost impossible to get, apparently)?


What size are you after?
 
Last edited:
Messages
15,310
Location
Central California
I would like to buy some Milan hats, and also some Boater hats.

But I'm not aware of any hat makers who currently make real Boater hats.

As for Milan hats, I'm only aware of Optimo making them. But I've been on their waiting list to get one for several years already, and they have never offered me one (when I ask them about this, they say that their Milans are super rare and so that's why they never offered me one). And with their new price hikes, I probably wouldn't be able to afford one even if they did offer me one at this point.

So, can any of you give me any recommendations for any hat makers (aside from Optimo) who currently make real Boater hats and/or real Milan hats?

Or is there no such thing as that currently in 2022 (other than Optimo who sometimes makes Milans, even though they are almost impossible to get, apparently)?


There are some Milan hats being made by hatters selling on Etsy.
 

Doctor Strange

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,078
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
This appears to be a real boater (not one of those soft-straw fake boaters):


I haven't handled one myself, but I'm sure others here can chime in on whether it's legit.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,146
Location
London, UK
The main supplier for real boaters here in the UK for as long as I've been aware was Olney, but alas Olney have recently shut down, and it appears to be the boaters are disappearing. Somebody somewhere must be going to sell them in England, though, as they're still Eton uniform, I believe. I just hope they can be found as affordably and nice as the Olney ones.
 

ChicagoWayVito

Practically Family
Messages
682
Anybody know if David at VS still has Art's machine for straw? Unless I am mistaken, Art was making those bodies for straws and Dualists.
Last I heard was that Art still had the straw braid sewing machine and a bunch of the straw hanks. I think he was asking $5,000 for it all but that was probably 2 years ago.
 
Messages
14,721
Location
Buffalo, NY
Depending on the size you require, there has always been a good inventory of vintage milan straw and antique boaters (in a wide variety of materials and weaves) on eBay. Any bespoke hat shop should be able to update an older hat body with a new sweatband. The materials available for straw hats today is very limited compared to what was in common use 70+ years ago. It's great that Optimo continues to make and sell braided wheat straw hats but even these seem rustic (to my eye) compared to a nice vintage milan from the 1950s.

knox_milan3.jpg
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,295
Location
vancouver, canada
Anybody know if David at VS still has Art's machine for straw? Unless I am mistaken, Art was making those bodies for straws and Dualists.
Yes, Art was making Milan....I watched him for a few minutes...fascinating process. Tim @purebeaver has (had) a sewing machine and some straw for sale last week if anyone wants to take this on as a project!!!!
 

Genuine Classic Gangster

One of the Regulars
Messages
132
Location
Canada
What size are you after?
Technically I'm a 59 CM with an Extra Long Oval head shape.

However, sometimes I can get away with wearing 60 CM hat in standard oval, in order to compensate for my Extra Long Oval-shaped head.

But ideally, it would be best if I could have a bespoke hatter custom-make me some hats in a 59 Extra Long Oval size.

Although Akubra fedoras also fit me pretty well in size 59 CM even with their standard oval shape, so I'm not sure what's up with that.

My uncommon EXLO head shape makes me reluctant to gamble with buying vintage hats on eBAY, as I feel like I am highly likely to wind up wasting my money on hats that don't fit me if I try to do that.

The materials available for straw hats today is very limited compared to what was in common use 70+ years ago.

So does that mean that Optimo, or else vintage used hats, are literally my only choice, if I want to buy a Milan hat and/or boater hat (and I think Optimo doesn't even make boaters) in 2022?

There is no such thing as other hat makers that make new ones in our present day?
 
Last edited:
Messages
15,310
Location
Central California
Technically I'm a 59 CM with an Extra Long Oval head shape.

However, sometimes I can get away with wearing 60 CM hat in standard oval, in order to compensate for my Extra Long Oval-shaped head.

But ideally, it would be best if I could have a bespoke hatter custom-make me some hats in a 59 Extra Long Oval size.

Although Akubra fedoras also fit me pretty well in size 59 CM even with their standard oval shape, so I'm not sure what's up with that.

My uncommon EXLO head shape makes me reluctant to gamble with buying vintage hats on eBAY, as I feel like I am highly likely to wind up wasting my money on hats that don't fit me if I try to do that.



So does that mean that Optimo, or else vintage used hats, are literally my only choice, if I want to buy a Milan hat and/or boater hat (and I think Optimo doesn't even make boaters) in 2022?

There is no such thing as other hat makers that make new ones in our present day?


You’re a bit late: I asked about your size because there was a 7 3/8 Optimo Milan on eBay for a great price, but it’s gone now.

I know of at least two hattters who are making Milan hats from raw materials, and I strongly suspect that Optimo is too as well as others I’m not aware of.

It’s not unheard of for old hat bodies to pop up (I have an 1950s Mallory felt that VS made into a custom hat), but such things are rare.

Most of the “Milan” hats today are Milan in weave only and not in the use of Milan wheat straw. Hemp and man made materials seem to be the most common “straw” used today.

Here is some of the work the Begin Hat Mfg. is showing on Etsy:

E4490758-8508-4F26-8ABB-1A537E0CA7E1.jpeg
3FE90682-8F7E-4678-A294-59A496963AFC.jpeg
F8D69053-7392-4850-BC95-5133387E670D.jpeg
95C1FE82-B0D7-41D8-A61F-A112BABF4E6F.jpeg
07157C86-E004-4ACD-AD5D-CD5951B7026F.jpeg
1EA1075C-16B9-49F4-9188-042D10B1A078.jpeg


I contacted him last year about making me a hat but he couldn’t accommodate my hat size and preferred dimensions. His hats look promising, but I have no clue as to their actual quality. I’ve been hoping someone else here would get one and do a good review.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,295
Location
vancouver, canada
Technically I'm a 59 CM with an Extra Long Oval head shape.

However, sometimes I can get away with wearing 60 CM hat in standard oval, in order to compensate for my Extra Long Oval-shaped head.

But ideally, it would be best if I could have a bespoke hatter custom-make me some hats in a 59 Extra Long Oval size.

Although Akubra fedoras also fit me pretty well in size 59 CM even with their standard oval shape, so I'm not sure what's up with that.

My uncommon EXLO head shape makes me reluctant to gamble with buying vintage hats on eBAY, as I feel like I am highly likely to wind up wasting my money on hats that don't fit me if I try to do that.



So does that mean that Optimo, or else vintage used hats, are literally my only choice, if I want to buy a Milan hat and/or boater hat (and I think Optimo doesn't even make boaters) in 2022?

There is no such thing as other hat makers that make new ones in our present day?
I have made just one Extra Long Oval hat. Did it for a buddy. I could not charge enough money based on the time it took me to make the hat. It was a bitch to get it right.....and is a 'one and done'.
 
Messages
15,310
Location
Central California
I have made just one Extra Long Oval hat. Did it for a buddy. I could not charge enough money based on the time it took me to make the hat. It was a bitch to get it right.....and is a 'one and done'.


Just out of curiosity, if you had an extra long oval block, flange, and band block would of be any harder to make than a standard oval hat? When I went into Tatton Baird’s a couple years ago I was measured and was told that I’m an extra long oval.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,295
Location
vancouver, canada
Just out of curiosity, if you had an extra long oval block, flange, and band block would of be any harder to make than a standard oval hat? When I went into Tatton Baird’s a couple years ago I was measured and was told that I’m an extra long oval.
The hat I made for my friend I did it without an Extra Long Oval block.

First the felt was blocked on a Long Oval block. I then cut a band block in the shape of his head and with much work finessed the brim break area to match the extra long oval but left the upper crown as is. If you can imagine an extra long oval block would be very pointy at the front and if used a block to match the profile the crown at the front would be really weird and pointy too. The trick is to get the area of the sweat band to conform to the XL Oval so the wearer does not have the huge gaps at the temples but leave the upper crown still full(ish) and not pointy. I still have the band block of your head shape and you are not as extreme as my friend. His head left a two finger gap at each temple when he wore a hat blocked on a Long Oval. Seeing your hats in the pictures it does not look like you have those gaps??
 

daizawaguy

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,660
Location
Tokyo
Optimo and Wellerma are the two best Milan makers, and best buy early, as these hats are bound to rise in value IMHO, especially being made by these two names
 

ChicagoWayVito

Practically Family
Messages
682
Not quite on the topic that the OP had intended but related.

I have two millinery books that suggest one can use a wooden block as a guide and then hand-stitch the woven braids together very carefully and probably requires an abundance of patience and you can make these kinds of hats without the use of a sewing machine. Seems interesting and something I might try out but if going through that much effort I want the legit wheat straw braids out of Asia and not the imposter braids. :)

I should say though the millinery books clearly showed a much larger braid than that of a Milan.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,295
Location
vancouver, canada
Not quite on the topic that the OP had intended but related.

I have two millinery books that suggest one can use a wooden block as a guide and then hand-stitch the woven braids together very carefully and probably requires an abundance of patience and you can make these kinds of hats without the use of a sewing machine. Seems interesting and something I might try out but if going through that much effort I want the legit wheat straw braids out of Asia and not the imposter braids. :)

I should say though the millinery books clearly showed a much larger braid than that of a Milan.
Props to you for even thinking about doing this!!!!
 

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