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

Genuine Classic Gangster

One of the Regulars
Messages
162
Location
Canada
Thanks for the info, everyone.

Seems like Wellerma is probably the man who can make a good Milan for me, but I wouldn't have heard of him if not for having made this thread. Seems like his name is what I needed to hear, so I'm very happy about that.

So for now I'll consider the Milan portion of my OP answered in a satisfactory way.

Seems like there is still no answer as to where to get newly-made boater hats from though.

Are any new hatters likely to rise up and start making boaters again in the future?

Or are boaters probably going to remain extinct forever in terms of apparently no one is making new ones any more?
 
Messages
18,936
Location
Central California
Onley in the UK still sells boaters. They are still part of some school uniforms I believe.

Ponte Rialto boaters come up frequently. They are decent hats with bon-ton ivy sweatbands. They have made hats for Brooks Brothers and several other brands. They aren’t quite as light as I’d like, and the most commonly found hats have smaller brims than I prefer, but they are solid boaters…not sure how the sweatbands would do with daily wear, but then I don’t recall seeing any with damaged sweatbands on the vintage market.

Then there are the Milan and even Panama hats that are blocked in a boater’s shape.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,787
Location
London, UK
Onley in the UK still sells boaters. They are still part of some school uniforms I believe.

Ponte Rialto boaters come up frequently. They are decent hats with bon-ton ivy sweatbands. They have made hats for Brooks Brothers and several other brands. They aren’t quite as light as I’d like, and the most commonly found hats have smaller brims than I prefer, but they are solid boaters…not sure how the sweatbands would do with daily wear, but then I don’t recall seeing any with damaged sweatbands on the vintage market.

Then there are the Milan and even Panama hats that are blocked in a boater’s shape.

Olney sadly shut up shop at the tail end of 2020; a victim of the pandemic in part, no doubt, probably also the post-2016 decline of the UK economy, and simply market demands, or lack thereof, more generally. Their boaters were great, and generally reasonably priced. They do sometimes still crop up on websites in limited sizes NOS, but the asking price has shot up also.

I know there's somewhere in Italy still making them, can't recall the company name. In the UK, Gamble & Gun sell their own brand - which may be made by our Italian chums? - for GBP75 (I last bought a new Olney for £50 in 2010, so that seems a fair price for them by that measure in 2023). They also have a range of actual, vintage options in varying prices: https://gambleandgunn.com/product-category/mens-hats/boater-hats-for-men/

I don't know what they charge for international postage, but that could well be offset by the historically low value of the pound right now.
 

Yamahana

One Too Many
Messages
1,008
Location
Buckeye, Arizona
Anyone familiar with the Milan’s from Miller Hats? Website states genuine Milan straw, leather sweat and made in USA, with either 2 1/4 or 2 3/4” brim.
E9E83E4C-D72B-433E-B505-88EA5B9708A9.jpeg


https://www.millerhats.com/store/364-Milan-Fedora-Hat
 

AndyR

One of the Regulars
Messages
265
Location
Illinois
I know this was an older inquiry, but it's interesting that I had recently gone through Optimo's site to show my dad a finely crafted Milan and I don't find any. No mention of them anywhere. I wonder if he still makes them.
 
Messages
10,390
Location
vancouver, canada
I know this was an older inquiry, but it's interesting that I had recently gone through Optimo's site to show my dad a finely crafted Milan and I don't find any. No mention of them anywhere. I wonder if he still makes them.
Wellema Hats in LA advertise Milan the last time I looked.
 

Genuine Classic Gangster

One of the Regulars
Messages
162
Location
Canada
With one hatter, I've been on their waitlist for a Milan hat for about 10 years, and I never heard anything from them. When I inquired with them about that a year or two ago, they said: "Milan straw is extremely rare, I can't emphasize enough just how rare it is...you are still on the waitlist though."

Then last Summer I found another hatter who makes Milan hats, and I placed an order with him...then a couple of weeks after I placed my order, he told me that he ran out of Milan straw and his supplier doesn't know when they will be getting more, and then he automatically refunded my deposit and canceled my order.

So in my experience, it seems virtually impossible to buy a new Milan hat in these modern times.

Why is that so?

And is this problem ever going to become corrected in the future?
 
Messages
18,936
Location
Central California
With one hatter, I've been on their waitlist for a Milan hat for about 10 years, and I never heard anything from them. When I inquired with them about that a year or two ago, they said: "Milan straw is extremely rare, I can't emphasize enough just how rare it is...you are still on the waitlist though."

Then last Summer I found another hatter who makes Milan hats, and I placed an order with him...then a couple of weeks after I placed my order, he told me that he ran out of Milan straw and his supplier doesn't know when they will be getting more, and then he automatically refunded my deposit and canceled my order.

So in my experience, it seems virtually impossible to buy a new Milan hat in these modern times.

Why is that so?

And is this problem ever going to become corrected in the future?


Milan can refer to the wheat straw as well as the braiding process, as I’m sure you already knew. Hemp is currently more common to see with the Milan weave. I can only assume that there isn’t a great enough demand for wheat straw Milan for it to be financially viable to produce. There was a young hatter selling genuine Milan hats on Etsy for a reasonable, albeit not cheap, price. I looked into buying one a couple years ago but he didn’t offer them in my size and with the dimensions I wanted. They were really nice hats.

Art Fawcett used to offer Milan hats at reasonable prices, but he retired a couple years back. Rick @humanshoes has a collection of vintage milan weave sewing machines, but the last I heard he was t able to get a satisfactory hat from his efforts…I’m still hopeful that someday it might work out. Lots of love for Rick.

Optimo of Chicago offers milan hats, but I’m not sure of availability and his pricing is up there (his devotees, of which there are many, feel his prices are justified).

The hat quality market is fairly small, and the straw hat market is smaller than the felt market. There are a lot of features and materials that were available when the economy of scale made them profitable when most men wore hats. Those materials and features are gone now and not likely to return. Most of the current hat buying public balk at paying $200 for a “straw hat” of any variety and most don’t care about Milan hats.

I believe that Tom Gomez of the Gomez Hat Co. Sometimes offers Milan hats.
 
Last edited:
Messages
10,390
Location
vancouver, canada
Milan can refer to the wheat straw as well as the braiding process, as I’m sure you already knew. Hemp is currently more common to see with the Milan weave. I can only assume that there isn’t a great enough demand for wheat straw Milan for it to be financially viable to produce. There was a young hatter selling genuine Milan hats on Etsy for a reasonable, albeit not cheap, price. I looked into buying one a couple years ago but he didn’t offer them in my size and with the dimensions I wanted. They were really nice hats.

Art Fawcett used to offer Milan hats at reasonable prices, but he retired a couple years back. Rick @humanshoes has a collection of vintage milan weave sewing machines, but the last I heard he was t able to get a satisfactory hat from his efforts…I’m still hopeful that someday it might work out. Lots of love for Rick.

Optimo of Chicago offers milan hats, but I’m not sure of availability and his pricing is up there (his devotees, of which there are many, feel his prices are justified).

The hat quality market is fairly small, and the straw hat market is smaller than the felt market. There are a lot of features and materials that were available when the economy of scale made them profitable when most men wore hats. Those materials and features are gone now and not likely to return. Most of the current hat buying public balk at paying $200 for a “straw hat” of any variety and most don’t care about Milan hats.

I believe that Tom Gomez of the Gomez Hat Co. Sometimes offers Milan hats.
I just noticed that Wellema no longer lists Milan straws on his website. He was the last maker that I knew of.
 
Messages
10,390
Location
vancouver, canada
I haven’t heard any of the aforementioned hatter’s opinions here, but aren’t most of the better wheatstraw plaits sourced from China?
Yes, Milan straw originally was sourced from Milan, Italy. The US pronounce it MY Lan. But like so many things now production stopped in Italy and switched to China. Not sure if it is a straw shortage or just a shortage of willing/able hatters. I know Tim@purebeaver had (has) a Milan sewing machine and it came with a great amount of the wheat straw. Not sure if he found a willing buyer. If I was younger I might be silly enough to take it on but I am thinking I don't have that amount of time left to master.....or the great passion required.
 
Last edited:
Messages
10,390
Location
vancouver, canada

Yamahana

One Too Many
Messages
1,008
Location
Buckeye, Arizona
The email indicates it's hemp Milan, so not genuine. It's likely very similar to the Stetson hemp Milans or the Peters Bros Milans you see me wear in the summer.
Yes, You’re right I realize now I wasn’t connecting all the dots in my thought process. OP was referring to the original wheat Milan.
This is a hemp Milan probably similar to Akubra hemp straw hats that I have.
I just know I do not care at all for synthetic - polypropylene straw hats. My head suffocates.
 

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