"Hatless Harry" Apparel Arts

Discussion in 'Hats' started by kools, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. kools

    kools Practically Family

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    I spent a few hours today in the Milwaukee Public Central Library looking through Apparel Arts & Esquire from 1947 & 1948. I found an article in the April 1948 issue of AA titled "Hatless Harry" Target For the Trade: Prototype of Bare-Headed Men Has Stymied Hat Industry; New Techniques May Sell Him.

    According to the article...
    57% of all men go hatless.
    85% of all men under 20 go hatless
    63% of all men 20-24 go hatless.
    57% of all men 24-34 go hatless.
    34% of all men 35-44 go hatless.

    The article cites the fact that while the American population more than doubled in the years from 1909 to 1947, hat production had dropped from 3 million dozen hats shipped to 1.7 million dozen hats shipped during those same years.
     
  2. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

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    Cool info, kools. Any idea what the production numbers are these days?
     
  3. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

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    This is excellent information. It helps to put the lie to the nonsense that John Kennedy killed off hat wearing among men. The peak production year for hats in the 20th century was 1913. It was all downhill from there.
     
  4. As far back as the early 1930s, Apparel Arts was decrying such "go without-ism".

    bk
     
  5. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    Of course, that was back when you weren't allowed in the front entrance of chichi office buildings without a lid on.
     
  6. jimmy the lid

    jimmy the lid I'll Lock Up

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    Interesting that, as the percentage of hair goes down, the percentage of hats goes up! :)

    Interesting stats, Kools.

    FWIW, I recently was talking hats with my father, who is now 85 years old. Without any prompting from me whatsoever, he volunteered the observation that Kennedy had had an impact on the degree to which men wore hats, starting in the early Sixties. That observation was interesting to me, since it came from someone (a hat-wearer) who was tuned in to what was going on at that time. That's not to say that the trend wasn't already in place, but I don't think it's implausible that the Kennedy phenomenon had some kind of impact in this regard. [Incidentally, it's not my intent to stir up an old debate here -- just wanted to share my father's observation].
     
  7. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    I just realized: After Ike became president, you never saw him in a hat. At least not typically. The denuded dome became an Ikon.

    I also just realized that jimmy the lid is a complete sentence. Clever that. :D
     
  8. jimmy the lid

    jimmy the lid I'll Lock Up

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    Better hold on to your hat when I'm around...:D
     
  9. reetpleat

    reetpleat Call Me a Cab

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    At risk of getting banned from the lounge, I can undersand why. The hat, in and of itself, when people spend a lot of time indoors and cars, does not make that much sense. Maybe it is cars that had a big impact onthe decline.

    I love hats because they recall an older age full of romance and adventure tahnks to the movies.

    I love the look. BUt from a purely practical standpoint, I don't see the innate appeal. If the hat had not existed in the past, I don't think it would bring up the same feelings in me or others, and that feeling is why I love hats.

    I find them just uncomfortabel enough taht I might not wear one if I lived back then. Of course I do love how they complete the look so maybe I would.
     
  10. Archie Goodwin

    Archie Goodwin One of the Regulars

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    I wore my hat in my car today

    I wear hats to keep my head warm, to keep my head dry, and to keep my head from getting sun burned. Yes, I am folically challenged. It generally takes at least 15 minuted for my car to get warm in the morning, during which time I am glad to have a hat keeping my head warm. I really do notice the difference when I leave without one. For me, wearing a hat serves a practical purpose. Which hat I wear is a statement of fashion.
     
  11. jsecunda

    jsecunda New in Town

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    Since joining this forum about 2 yrs ago and starting to wearing hats, I really don't understand why they went "out of style." I understand why Elizabethan ruffs and codpieces aren't seem much today. I'd understand if ties went out of style - fashion with no function. However, hats look cool, keep me warm/dry, keep the sun out of my eyes while driving or walking, cut down on worries about skin cancer and etc. How did an item this useful disappear? Despite reading various explanations on this site, this still puzzles me.
    js
     
  12. eg

    eg New in Town

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    Location:
    Burlington, ON
    hat utility

    I started wearing hats almost exclusively for utilitarian purposes -- ie. for the sun or cold. Only now am I beginning to take their style seriously.

    Unfortunately I am too tall to wear one in my car :mad:
     
  13. reetpleat

    reetpleat Call Me a Cab

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    Well, the bad news is the ball cap or trucker cap have taken their place and fill the same purpose. Unfortunately, when style is no longer a consideration, this is what you end up with.
     
  14. Actually both are a very poor substitute when it comes to protection from the sun. Your ears and neck are exposed completely. They also keep you warmer and drier than the aforementioned child's cap. :D

    Regards,

    J
     
  15. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    "Child's cap." Hmmm. Once again, JP, you make a succinct statement that bears an inordinate measure of truth for its size, coated in a delightful layer of irreverent humour. Well said, as always! :eusa_clap

    Very interesting statistics, Kools. Looks like my Dad was one of the 63% back in '48!
     
  16. Mr. Rover

    Mr. Rover One Too Many

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    Would you be so kind as to scan the article and cover? I am going to write a research paper about the decline of hatwearing in America?
     
  17. Slicksuit

    Slicksuit One of the Regulars

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    Interesting article citation. The book "Hatless Jack" goes into quite a bit of detail on the efforts that the poor habadasheries and felt manufacturers went to in an effort to re-energize the popularity of the hat since the 1920's. Some interesting notes from the book...
    -Efforts were made to convince the public on the health-benefits of wearing a hat
    -Advertising tried to tartet the college-aged man by offering straw hats with hatbands of their particular school's colors
    -Hat Life magazine believed that the efforts to advertise the hat were not receiving sufficient funding, especially in comparison to consumer products like toiletries
    -Messages for hat ads tried to persuade the public that hats were lighter (ex: the 'Litefelt' hats)
    -Hatters practically begged President Kennedy and his successors to wear their hats, in addition using celebrities in hat ads

    The book also cites that domestic production of fur felt declined by 42% between the years 1909 to 1929. Peak hat production for the US was the year 1903. Interestingly, the book states that women were first to begin to go hatless in public, in the early 1890's.

    As much as I'd hate to admit it, these statistics point to the fact that hatlessness was much allready into noticable decline by the 1930's, and perhaps that hats weren't as popular during the 'Golden Age' as we hold in nostalga. It could very well be that the hats we see in many of the advertisments and movies during the 1920's-1950's were attempts at convincing the public and simple product placement.
     
  18. Dapper Dan

    Dapper Dan One of the Regulars

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    Then explain the sheer number of candid photographs featuring men in hats. And don't you think people would have commented on how odd it was to see such rampant hat-wearing in movies? If somebody made a movie today, set in contemporary America, and an inordinately large number of men were wearing fedoras, wouldn't people comment on how strange it was?

    I think we also would need to see a break-down of hat-wearing on economic level in order to make any real judgment calls about the hat's popularity. I'm not arguing that by, 1948, that hat wasn't a dwindling feature. What I am saying, though, is that I don't think we really have to completely revise our view on hats. Hats were definitely optional, but look how many people still chose to wear them. Another thing to take into consideration is the "On/Off" implication of this poll. Hats aren't things you need glued to your head; some days I choose to wear a hat, others I choose not to. It's not clear if the poll takes this into account.

    And in Kennedy's defesne, he had a wonderful head of hair.
     
  19. vonwotan

    vonwotan Practically Family

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    One interesting item in an otherwise ho hum publication is the hat timeline in Esquire's Big Black Book 2006. It is not accompanied by text but the captin is "The Long Slow Decline of The American Hat." It starts with in 1772 with George Washington and ends in 2006 with (I had to look up the first name) Kevin Federline. Unfortunately, it does seem to perpetuate the Kennedy myth - showing JFK hatless in 1968. However, for some this may have been a contributing factor?
     
  20. Slicksuit

    Slicksuit One of the Regulars

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    Location:
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    Interesting points, both of them. I think I'll refine my theory somewhat. While my comments were framed for the population in general, I think the decline in hat wearing was more generalizable in terms of generations of population. The earlier statistics from this post support that.

    While hats were indeed seen in public at the time, I think that as you keep an eye on the ages of the wearers and the particular year, you'll see less younger folks sporting lids.

    I'm not sure that pictures in general from the golden era were all that candid, either. Assuming that cameras and film were still somewhat expensive at the time, I could imagine that many of the photos were of special events and holidays, where pictures were more apt to be taken and the subjects more likely to have a hat. Even thinking about the ubiquitous pictures of a sea of men in hats at sporting events, I can't help but think that going to a game was a rather special occasion for the participants.

    As for movies, I'm thinking that many of the Hollywood executives and directors who made the movies from the time were older men, the same demographic more likely than not to wear hats at the time. It's also a well-documented fact that the studios during the Golden Era typically dictated the clothing worn by their stars - both on screen and off. Studios at the time had a vested interest in maufacturing the brand that was the Hollywood movie star.

    Surely, hat-wearing was more predominant during the Golden Era than today, for the simple fact that the older generations, more apt to wear hats, were still around in larger numbers. It would be interesting if the same statistics previously given for the late 1940s in this post were also available for other decades.
     

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