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Lets talk about hat shrinkage

AbbaDatDeHat

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,645
Just some observations:

Since reading through this thread i feel like there is a difference in definition of “vintage” hats as well as significant generalizations of i’ll say, apples and oranges, in discussing hat shrinkage experiences.
It seems the OP indeed has vast experiences with Akubra. Thus i yield to his experiences based on all things Akubra.
I had no idea Akubra has been around since 1874! Definitely vintage. Akubra history states the new plant built in 1972. Definitely NOT vintage!
Not Akubra or any other manufacture in terms of FL vintage standards.

So…comparing modern Akubra shrinkage experience (say post 1972) has little to do with vintage manufactures of all sorts. Pre 1972 who knows?? Tell us.
Saying “ALL 40s-60s hats” hanging on a nail shrink is a generalization of apples and oranges compared to modern Akubras which seem/might be the standard compared to??
Very confusing.
Shrinking 4-5 sizes is hard to grasp no matter the hat or how vintage it is!!
Maybe Akubras, idk??, which absolutely have a reputation for shrinking, here on the lounge for whatever the reason, but not to any posts here have i seen such to be presented.
Daily wear of Akuras (or any other brand) for 20 years shrinking?? What missing a day or hanging on a nail unworn for years?? How so?
Maybe the OP would be better served to be more specific in terms of “vintage” distinction and brand identification so we, trying to understand and engage, have reasonable references to go on.
Or maybe i’m just missing the logic.
B
 

The Lost Cowboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,078
Location
Northern Alabama
I think shrinkage or size variation is a really useful conversation to have.

I have a mid- to late-60s Stetson 25 that is labeled size 7 but measures 21.5 inches circumference - that’s 6 7/8. I wear it a lot - it’s a favorite work hat- but it is literally the smallest size 7 that I own. I always thought the hat shrank, but now you have me wondering if it was just mislabeled or perhaps at that time period the 25s were produced a bit on the smaller side?

I’m currently waiting for an early 60s Stetson Sovereign. It is labeled 6 7/8 and if it’s true to size, then it should fit me tight like my Stetson 25. I would not have even gambled on the Sovereign except the sweat band is in immaculate condition (as is the rest of the hat with one small moth nick) and the hat only cost 65$. At that price, I didn’t even stop to ask the seller to provide measurements - I just took the gamble.

But now I am anxious to see if this gorgeous hat is going to fit. If it is any smaller than 21.5 inches (for whatever reason), it will not fit.

So I admit that I also thought vintage sweatbands shrink over time, mostly because so many vintage hats I’ve purchased are smaller than they should be. But it makes a lot more sense if they were just not made true to size to begin with.
 
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The Lost Cowboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,078
Location
Northern Alabama
What made it more confusing to me was that I quit buying 7 1/8 vintage felts because they are always too big and the sweatbands NEVER shrink no matter how much I wear them. Literally, the ONLY sweatbands I have that shrink are Akubras. So I thought the vintage sweats must shrink over time but either it took decades or they would only shrink a certain amount and then stop shrinking.

This is my very first vintage felt - a size 7 1/8 early 50s Stetson 3X. When I got it, it was immaculate - pristine. My hair was long and full and the hat fit perfectly. I wore the hell out of it, as you can see, but the sweatband has never shrunk a centimeter. Since cutting my hair, it doesn’t fit anymore and I can’t put enough padding in the band to make it tight Eventually I stopped hoping the sweatband would shrink and now it sits on the shelf.

28FDBD18-6084-46B6-ADB6-41FC9D9A93DE.jpeg
 
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suitedcboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,346
Location
Fort Worth Texas or thereabouts
I'm in TX and wear felts year round, though less and not much during daytime in the summer months. I have not had noticeable shrinkage in vintage hats, I assumed they had already shrunk before I got them. New hats or relatively new used but unworn used hats have always shrunk a bit. Not based on fit but from depth the band blocks that I have will go into the hat. The band blocks have a little taper and if the hat shrinks, it fails to go in with bottom flush with brim.
 

truffaux

New in Town
Messages
24
Location
Hawaii, France, Australia
I think shrinkage or size variation is a really useful conversation to have.

I have a mid- to late-60s Stetson 25 that is labeled size 7 but measures 21.5 inches circumference - that’s 6 7/8. I wear it a lot - it’s a favorite work hat- but it is literally the smallest size 7 that I own. I always thought the hat shrank, but now you have me wondering if it was just mislabeled or perhaps at that time period the 25s were produced a bit on the smaller side?

I’m currently waiting for an early 60s Stetson Sovereign. It is labeled 6 7/8 and if it’s true to size, then it should fit me tight like my Stetson 25. I would not have even gambled on the Sovereign except the sweat band is in immaculate condition (as is the rest of the hat with one small moth nick) and the hat only cost 65$. At that price, I didn’t even stop to ask the seller to provide measurements - I just took the gamble.

But now I am anxious to see if this gorgeous hat is going to fit. If it is any smaller than 21.5 inches (for whatever reason), it will not fit.

So I admit that I also thought vintage sweatbands shrink over time, mostly because so many vintage hats I’ve purchased are smaller than they should be. But it makes a lot more sense if they were just not made true to size to begin with.
I think they are mostly made true to size - it's hard to tell what has happened to a hat over a 70 year timeframe - it is the movement after the event that interests me. It is a puzzle I have been unravelling for 20 years - all this helps
 

Happy

New in Town
Messages
26
Location
out on the central plains
I am paying attention to this topic. I got an Akubra Riverina a couple weeks ago and it was a very good fit. Being concerned that the Riverina might shrink I made a custom hat block.
My Akubra Banjo Paterson arrived today. It is labeled the very same size as the Riverina but fits somewhat larger.
Now I would like to shrink the Banjo P. just a little. Such is life. Perhaps some wear and sweat will cause a perfect fit. If not a little liner will.
 

The Shooman

Practically Family
Messages
550
Location
AUSTRALIA
I deal with this an awful lot in my everyday life as a hatmaker and no one really talks about it.
Every hat will end up shrinking in the end - so when you order one, makes sure it has a little extra room to allow for this, insert a foam spacer and then all will be well.
Panama hats shrink pretty quickly - I notice it after two weeks. Often as they cure on the shelves, they will adjust be 1-3cm depending on the weave. Fresh hats are less predictable.
Felts with leather bands can take years, but it is hastened by leaving your hat in the sun or heating (parcel shelf, air conditioning, heaters etc). The felt shrinks a bit, but it is the stupid leather bands that cause all the trouble.
I have seen hats where the leather band has become completely flat with the brim - so a 60cm became a 45cm!!!!!
I have owned hundreds of vintage hats and very few that are true to size.
Have a look here and you will get the idea :

https://www.truffaux.com/blogs/panama-hat-advice/why-do-panama-hats-shrink

Good luck

Oska


You live close to me (90 minutes away), and l want to visit your shop, but l would like to ask some questions first.

1). I understand wool/felt hats shrink because they get stretched over the hat block but shrink back to their original size over time. So....when l buy an Akubra, should l buy one size too big? How long does it take to shrink back? I store my hats in boxes, so if l buy a bigger hat, can l dab it with water and leave it out in the sun so it shrinks faster?

2). Do you sell traditional boater hats? Do they shrink, if so, buy how much?

3). I recently got fitted for a really fine Montecristi (made by Mt Rosendo) by an expert. It was bought slightly bigger, so l sponge it with water lightly and leave it out in the sun to shrink. The problem is that it is now wavy. Do you block hats or know some local who can block my masterpiece?

https://www.ganjingworld.com/news/t...ster-craftsman/1g6mqrh5mum7at0VBkEMW9YLz15l1c
 

jlee562

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,055
Location
San Francisco, CA
You live close to me (90 minutes away), and l want to visit your shop, but l would like to ask some questions first.

1). I understand wool/felt hats shrink because they get stretched over the hat block but shrink back to their original size over time. So....when l buy an Akubra, should l buy one size too big? How long does it take to shrink back? I store my hats in boxes, so if l buy a bigger hat, can l dab it with water and leave it out in the sun so it shrinks faster?

2). Do you sell traditional boater hats? Do they shrink, if so, buy how much?

3). I recently got fitted for a really fine Montecristi (made by Mt Rosendo) by an expert. It was bought slightly bigger, so l sponge it with water lightly and leave it out in the sun to shrink. The problem is that it is now wavy. Do you block hats or know some local who can block my masterpiece?

https://www.ganjingworld.com/news/t...ster-craftsman/1g6mqrh5mum7at0VBkEMW9YLz15l1c

Akubras shrink because they use cheap leather. The thing about stretching the blank over the block is more pertinent to the shape of the block. Over time, the felt is trying to shrink back into a cone shape. This is why some hats taper when you get them wet.
 

harrytemp

One of the Regulars
Messages
101
As someone new to this world I like vintage hats more and when buying I always ask the seller to measure the length and width. I've already bought 3 hats and each hat in same size according to the tag and all fit perfectly except one.
 

srq2002

Familiar Face
Messages
68
Location
Sarasota, Florida
I’ve owned hundreds of vintage hats too. Several have been larger than tagged and most have been very close to true to size, and a few have been smaller than labeled. I don’t know their past so I can imagine some were worn by larger headed men who stretched them a bit and maybe that accounts for those measuring larger than sized? There is variation, but I’ve been mostly impressed that my vintage hats have been true to size (or very close). I’m fact, if the hats are from the 1940s or earlier the more confidence I have that they will fit true to size. Odd, but I find the most shrinkage problems from my more recent vintage hats.

There is, and always has been, discrepancies on sizing. New hats made by the same company or the same custom hat maker often fit differently even when made on the same block. Sometimes the differences can be significant.

I have found the same, with one quirk. In the modern Stetson line, almost everything shrank about one size (actually much more in the case of a Whippet 'Sovereign' that really got soaked). So when I placed an order for a batch of their Premier series hats (Stratoliner, Stetsonian, etc.), I went up one cm, and the #$%^ things won't shrink, with the exception of a black Premier Strat.

Elsewhere, my modern Borsalinos didn't so much shrink as lose their shape and charm. My best efforts with stiffener and steam haven't been able to return them to their initial glory.
 
Messages
10,392
Location
vancouver, canada
I have found the same, with one quirk. In the modern Stetson line, almost everything shrank about one size (actually much more in the case of a Whippet 'Sovereign' that really got soaked). So when I placed an order for a batch of their Premier series hats (Stratoliner, Stetsonian, etc.), I went up one cm, and the #$%^ things won't shrink, with the exception of a black Premier Strat.

Elsewhere, my modern Borsalinos didn't so much shrink as lose their shape and charm. My best efforts with stiffener and steam haven't been able to return them to their initial glory.
Ahh, the joys and torments of modern mass produced hats!
 

jlee562

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,055
Location
San Francisco, CA
I have found the same, with one quirk. In the modern Stetson line, almost everything shrank about one size (actually much more in the case of a Whippet 'Sovereign' that really got soaked). So when I placed an order for a batch of their Premier series hats (Stratoliner, Stetsonian, etc.), I went up one cm, and the #$%^ things won't shrink, with the exception of a black Premier Strat.

Elsewhere, my modern Borsalinos didn't so much shrink as lose their shape and charm. My best efforts with stiffener and steam haven't been able to return them to their initial glory.

Good to reiterate that there are so many variables here. Someone may need to fact check me on this, but I believe that the Royal quality Strat and the Premier Strat use different leathers. On the current Stetson site, the Royal Deluxe quality OR is specifically listed as having a Roan leather band, while the Strat is not.

Sovereign grade hasn't been in use for a few years, so what Hatco is producing now may not be the same either.
 

Winston Carter

Practically Family
Messages
675
Location
Seagoville, Tx.
Most hats I own are stetson and have actually got them soaked and dried them with a hair dryer without shrinkage. The cheaper felt ones that I own, even too tight stetson and resistol that haven't shrunk l pull the band and liner out, take some light sandpaper and sand any glue off. They are the most comfortable hats I own. I have probably 6-8 hats I've done this to and don't regret it.
20240301_165652.jpg
20240301_165738.jpg
 
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Messages
18,937
Location
Central California
This old Knox just arrived. It’s a 100-year old hat (plus/minus) and it’s true to size. The original leather sweatband has had plenty of time to shrink if it was going to. I’d also wager that the hat did not spend its life with a band block or hat stretcher installed; although, I can’t say for certain. If it’s shrunk it’s a fraction of a size, and I don’t think it has at all. Newer sweatbands just don’t compare to what was used back in the good old days.

IMG_2022.jpeg
IMG_2026.jpeg
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Rmccamey

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,665
Location
Central Texas
A dashing derby! Very nice, Brent.

This old Knox just arrived. It’s a 100-year old hat (plus/minus) and it’s true to size. The original leather sweatband has had plenty of time to shrink if it was going to. I’d also wager that the hat did not spend its life with a band block or hat stretcher installed; although, I can’t say for certain. If it’s shrunk it’s a fraction of a size, and I don’t think it has at all. Newer sweatbands just don’t compare to what was used back in the good old days.

View attachment 596162 View attachment 596163 View attachment 596164
 

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