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How many custom hat shops are left?

jdouglasj

Familiar Face
Messages
67
Just be aware that not all custom hatters actually have a physical location. I don't know that Gannon has a physical shop location or not, he didn't when he was still in Portland. I know that Black Sheep does not, he runs it out of his home. The only thing having a physical location does is drive up the price of their products in order to cover their expenses.

I wouldn't necessarily make it a requirement that you need to visit the hat shop in order to get a great hat. The 5 customs that I have were never done in person, I took my own measurements and gave them to the hatter. I am also lucky to have two different conformateurs that I can use to check my measurements as well.
I hear ya, but when I went to Watson's I ended up picking a color and a band that I never woudl have over the phone. I also came close to buying a second hat, and I have a good idea of what I want from that hat. I can tell what clothes will work on me and I can order them without being in the store, but I can't do that with hats yet. I wish I could.
 

ChicagoWayVito

Practically Family
Messages
699
I hear ya, but when I went to Watson's I ended up picking a color and a band that I never woudl have over the phone. I also came close to buying a second hat, and I have a good idea of what I want from that hat. I can tell what clothes will work on me and I can order them without being in the store, but I can't do that with hats yet. I wish I could.
Start the process over the phone but finalize colors of the felt and ribbon through email. If you find a hatter that is not willing to take the time to provide pictures of the options, then do not continue with them and find another one. Gannon gets rave reviews about his hats and the customer service he provides all through email. There is at least one lounger on here that has purchased something like 11 or 13 hats from Gannon.

I am not trying to sell you a Gannon, just used as a reference as he gets good reviews from this discerning crowd :). I actually make my own hats now.
 
Messages
10,268
Location
vancouver, canada
Start the process over the phone but finalize colors of the felt and ribbon through email. If you find a hatter that is not willing to take the time to provide pictures of the options, then do not continue with them and find another one. Gannon gets rave reviews about his hats and the customer service he provides all through email. There is at least one lounger on here that has purchased something like 11 or 13 hats from Gannon.

I am not trying to sell you a Gannon, just used as a reference as he gets good reviews from this discerning crowd :). I actually make my own hats now.
I had Art @VS send me a Winchester felt swatch card so I had samples of all the felt colours on hand. Made it much easier to choose and then we chose the ribbon colours via email. It is fortunate that most NAmerican hatters all use Winchester so once you have the swatches you are good to deal with most hatters.
 
Messages
18,818
Location
Central California
I hear ya, but when I went to Watson's I ended up picking a color and a band that I never woudl have over the phone. I also came close to buying a second hat, and I have a good idea of what I want from that hat. I can tell what clothes will work on me and I can order them without being in the store, but I can't do that with hats yet. I wish I could.


Also be aware that some hatters are specialist and some are generalist. Gannon, for instance, really doesn’t make western hats just oversized fedoras. Northwest, on the other hand, can make you a homburg, western, fedora, top hat, etc.; however, his fedoras don’t have the characteristics that I prefer.

Sometimes color rendering/accuracy via email is an issue. It would be nice to see the colors in person. Some hatters are better at getting you accurate photos than others.
 

Lew Decker

New in Town
Messages
43
Location
exeter, nh
Hi Brent,
I'm curious as to the characteristics that you're looking for in the hats you wear that are missing in a Northwest hat.
I've never worn a Nortwest hat.
As for myself, this may sound vauge but I look for something that has a 1940's American kind of look.
Some Stetsons come very close as you might expect but for the most part their crowns are just a bit too small.
I'm also drawn to a soft(ish) quality felt and comfort. Have you purchased anything from Hornskov?
Lew
 
Messages
18,818
Location
Central California
Hi Brent,
I'm curious as to the characteristics that you're looking for in the hats you wear that are missing in a Northwest hat.
I've never worn a Nortwest hat.
As for myself, this may sound vauge but I look for something that has a 1940's American kind of look.
Some Stetsons come very close as you might expect but for the most part their crowns are just a bit too small.
I'm also drawn to a soft(ish) quality felt and comfort. Have you purchased anything from Hornskov?
Lew


Hello Lew. Mike at Northwest makes great hats and he can pounce the surface to a very fine smooth finish. What I don’t like about his fedoras is that the felt is very firm/stiff. It is great if you want to set the crease/bash once with steam and have it never change unless you steam it again. The workmanship is top notch and Mike has skills that are not rivaled (I’m thinking or brim edge curling). In my experience, Northwest fedoras are not at all vintage like as to the moldable felt. They aren’t the types of fedoras that you can return to open crown without steam and then dry crease to a new shape on the fly. Many like the type of felt Mike produces. I like soft felt, but in westerns I also sometimes like firm felt and two of my favorite firm westerns were made by Mike.

I have one hat by Hornskov. It’s a good hat, but it’s not among my favorites. Even when I overlook their use of petersham ribbon, I don’t see the value for money in their hats…particularly since they raised their prices.

There are some new hatters too that I’d consider. Wolfbrae, RRR, and T. Jones are all worth a look. Personally, I’d spend my money at Hufvud or Gannon or one of those new hatters.

Good luck, and share photos and your impressions of whatever you end up with.

Brent
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,709
Location
London, UK
I hear ya, but when I went to Watson's I ended up picking a color and a band that I never woudl have over the phone. I also came close to buying a second hat, and I have a good idea of what I want from that hat. I can tell what clothes will work on me and I can order them without being in the store, but I can't do that with hats yet. I wish I could.


In-person is always the best option for so many things. On the flipside, I'm very glad of the ecommerce options these days as they definitely make it possible for so many artisanal businesses like hatters to operate with ready access to a much wider market whereas sticking locally most of them simply wouldn't get the custom to make it viable. Certainly true, though, that sometimes seeing something in person gets you to consider stuff that otherwise would never have made the running. It's also a big advantage for getting a sense of quality that might encourage me to take a punt on a previously unknown brand, whereas I'd be much more wary online.
 
Messages
10,268
Location
vancouver, canada
The world of custom hats shops seems quite small. When I say “custom” I don’t merely mean they have a steamer and can shape the hat the way you want. I mean a hat shop where I pick every detail of a hat. I pick the color, the material, crown height, brim length, the ribbon, even the precise shape of the hat, and so on. Stores with that contraption they put on your head to produce the card with all the holes in it outlining the shape of your head.

In my quick search I found only six or seven shops in the country, and they all knew each other. But some people in this lounge have said there are hundreds of custom hat shops out there.
This post just popped up again in my alerts. In the last 4 years or so just here in Vancouver 6 custom hatters have opened up shop. Prior to this we had zero. Then if you expand the search into Instagram I think very quickly the number would exceed 100 with little effort to the search. There appears to be a true explosion in the growth of hat making in North America.....and obviously the demand has to exist as well. Interesting times afoot in the world of hats.
 

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