List of Custom, made-to-order, Fur Felt Fedora hatmakers and hatters

Discussion in 'Hats' started by JonSolo, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. Frunobulax

    Frunobulax

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    Different markets. There's a bigger pool of cash in the Western market and it's understandable that market would support those prices. As with all products, it's not always about quality.
     
  2. I always get a chuckle out of people who always want to tell others that they paid too much for something. If you applied yourself & you got the education that makes you the income, more power to you. Meet all your obligations & it's yours to spend as you wish.

    Try going to the Lamborghini Owners forum & tell them they paid too much for a "car".
     
  3. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    Trying to understand the dif price points is way dif than telling people they paid too much....\i think we all pick our poison, I just don't see the value in that particular proposition.........I drink $500 whisky and I have friends who think me crazy as they don't discern a difference between it and JW Black.
     
    deadlyhandsome likes this.
  4. Whether it's Optimo, Brent Black or others you know it happens all the time.
     

  5. Who has been saying anyone has paid too much? My wife thinks I pay too much for hats, but she understands it’s a hobby and not a particularly expensive one at that. Value and worth are personal things. However, a hat made to the same finish using the same felt and with the same details and that fits and looks the same that costs more isn’t a good value to my way of thinking. Is that an odd position to hold?

    I will say that my Greeley Hat Works and Butch Dorer and Montecristi Hat Works, Optimo etc. hats are not good value to me at new prices. If someone likes them and likes them for the price that’s great, but when I compare them to hats costing much less I personally don’t see the value. There is no doubt that sometimes what people are paying for is a brand and who are we to say that’s any less acceptable of a reason than my motivations?

    There’s also nothing wrong with wanting rubies and gold on your hats either, but I don’t. There’s nothing wrong with wanting Gucci handbags for $$$$ either, but I don’t see the value in them, and I don’t think they cost what they do because they are made so much better than other bags. I’m not saying people are paying too much when they buy them, but let’s be honest and admit that they are buying the name and something other than just a handbag.

    I currently have a custom 100% nutria western hat being made by Michael Gannon. It will cost me a fraction of what some of the big name custom western hatters charge, but I’m betting it won’t give up anything to them in quality or fit or any other qualitative metric that I’m interested in. When I pay more I like to get more. I’m not telling the guy who paid $250,000 for a Honda Accord that he paid too much, but I’m not paying that for one myself.
     
    belfastboy likes this.
  6. drmaxtejeda

    drmaxtejeda I'll Lock Up

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    I don't know if I can explain this well in English, and maybe couldn't in Spanish either, but I'll give it a shot:
    I think that the price increase that comes with an increase in quality isn't "additional".
    I think it is more like the Richter eartquake scale...
    From Wikipedia:
    "The scale is logarithmic and a difference of one represents an approximate thirtyfold difference in magnitude."
    Increasing the quality, the higher one goes up in the scale, becomes more and more difficult, so the increase in price sort of becomes exponential? Does that make any sense?
    The best dental ceramist in the world, Willi Geller, used to charge one thousand dollars to make a porcelain crown. A regular, nice one, used to cost one hundred. Was Willi's worth ten nice crowns? Mmmm... maybe not, if you looked at it arithmetically. But that thing was absolutely gorgeous, one of a kind, magnificent, nobody-else-can-do-that excellent.
    When I look at a wonderful hat, or a wonderful felt, or a wonderful Faberge egg, or fossil, or whatever, and my pulse and blood pressure rise and my jaw drops, I find the increase in value congruent...
     
    Robieman and deadlyhandsome like this.

  7. It makes perfect sense, Max. The law of diminishing returns: as you go “up” you “pay” more and more for ever smaller returns. I don’t have a problem with a hat costing 300 percent more when it’s only 20 percent better. I might not think that to me the increase in quality is worth the expense, but I can understand the logic. What I don’t get is the prevalence of western hatters (not all by any stretch) who charge huge fees while not giving you anything better. If my $400 Gannon western is objectively as good or better than a $1500 brand X then I’m not considering brand X even if it is a prestige brand.

    I haven’t seen anywhere near as many Optimos as you have, but for me, and just for me, I don’t see the value for money in them. I like them. I appreciate them. I don’t think anyone is foolish for buying them. But I’m never going to commission one for myself. I can also say that in a blind test I’d take my last couple of Gannons over any of the Optimos that I’ve handled...maybe I haven’t handled the better Optimos?
     
    Rmccamey likes this.
  8. drmaxtejeda

    drmaxtejeda I'll Lock Up

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    Optimo gave a leap in quality when they started to make only beaver felts. They also have Heirloom felts, which are even better, made with silverbelly only.
    Now they have the Rex, which is made of Orylag, and have a world-wide exclusive on that felt from FEPSA.
    Graham Thompson told me recently he is thinking of going only with Heirloom felts, 100 percent silverbelly beaver, and the Orylag felt.
    I have some older Optimos that are nice, but don't compare with the newer.
     
    jlee562 and deadlyhandsome like this.
  9. Frunobulax

    Frunobulax

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    It's also true that those of us who have grown up without a lot have a different view of quality vs. value. I don't care if a hat is made from the virgin belly fur of angelic beavers and fits like the gods themselves measured my head, I'm not parting with $1,000.00 for it.
     
  10. I grew up in that same boat but by 1989 was doing quite well. I used such things as a motivator to push myself & as a reward for a job well done. Thirty plus yrs later I still wear the hat & don't regret it for a second.

    I had a close relative who died in Vietnam & never had a chance at anything in life. I think of that too.
     
    Robieman and Bamaboots like this.
  11. Rmccamey

    Rmccamey My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    This is an interesting discussion and, as is typical, we begin to get crosstalk between price (cost) and value. I know that hats, even very excellent hats, are something anyone can afford (outside those people in abject poverty), so the following example is not apples to apples, but I say it to make a point in the discussion.

    I own a $ entry level guitar. Used, I could sell it for about 25% of what i paid for it new. I also own a $$$$ custom guitar. Used, I could sell it for 25% MORE than I paid for it new. Which guitar has greater cost and which has greater value? Cost and value are not always different, but they are not always the same. And, as value is typically unique to our individual needs, it is hard to generalize these discussions very far.

    Personally, I'm not spending $1000 on a hat. The cost is too high and I just don't see a long term value proposition - even as an heirloom to my grandkids. That said, I must tattle on myself. Through a set of unfortunate decisions and circumstances, I have a modern $700 custom western wieght (Winchester) hat from a noted hatter. It is literally the single worst hat I have ever had! I think about selling it but I hate to pawn off such a disaster to anyone else. So, yes, my opinion is very tainted!
     
  12. Frunobulax

    Frunobulax

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    That's quite understandable. Twelve years ago, I bought the only new car I've ever purchased, a Chevy Impala. I'm still driving it. I bought my refrigerator in 1992. I'll likely never feel like I have "made it."
     
    deadlyhandsome likes this.
  13. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    I think how we see the world is so deeply influenced by our parents & family. We are either like them or are in resistance to them but either way the influence runs deep. Me, I am a weird amalgam. My parents, both dirt poor as children, early adult years in the Depression deeply molded them. My father worked 6 1/2 days a week to provide for us and died at 45. So I have this propensity to indulge myself after watching my father go without. But I inherited my parents respect for the things they worked so hard to purchase. I have good quality dress shoes 30 years old. I repair everything I can. My favourite work shoes have been rebuilt 5 times (they are now retired along with me). I have a few $5000 mountain bikes and more than a few ordinary ones.....they are bikes and all work about the same with a similar level of performance. The $5k ones do have a marginally better ride so I suspect it is similar to hats...the expensive ones a touch better but certainly not 10 times better....after it is just a bicycle.....and just a hat.
     

  14. As a child, my mother moved from Oklahoma during the depression/dust bowl. Her family moved several times as her father struggled to support the family. They were truly dirt poor, but they were very close and usually very happy. My father was middle class third generation Californian, and while not spoiled never went hungry or without the basics. My mom’s side of the family was by far happier and more lively! Great music, a genuine enthusiasm for life, fish fries and cornbread, and dozens of unruly cousins running around. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized they were poor, and I don’t think they thought of themselves that way. How could you be poor if you had a roof over your head and food to eat? Grandpa always worked, never took government assistance, and was the life and soul of the party.

    By the time my parents started having children they had both put religion first in their lives. I grew up with a focus on “things don’t make you happy” and “where your treasures are their will your heart be also.” Possessions, no matter how nice, we’re just stuff. I have a materialistic streak, but my base programming is to keep things in perspective and not invest emotion or give too much value to mere things. My religious upbringing and subsequent personal beliefs have served me well and I don’t have any regrets. My parents are both long gone but their influence and teachings echo through the lives of their children.

    If money was not a concern, I could see paying $$$$ for a hat, but I’d want to get value for my money. Paying more without getting more just doesn’t make sense to me, and I’m not interested in name brands for the pride of ownership...it’s just not me.
     
    belfastboy likes this.
  15. Frunobulax

    Frunobulax

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    Having Deptression-era parens gives you that sort of perspective. And while I understand that my material posessions are mere "things," they also represent (to me) the fruits of my efforts in life made corporeal. So it's kind of hard for me to take a lassaiz faire attitude toward material objects.

    I don't feel that my posessions are something to brag about or give me status. It doesn't excite me to have the latest and greatest of anything. Having a non-productive hobby like hat collecting is indeed a luxury. I don't allow myself too many of those. My indulgences beyond that are enjoying good food, good drink, and good music.
     
  16. Sorry, couldn't resist this since your post brought to mind this great dialog from The Hateful Eight:

    Major Marquis Warren --

    "Considering Minnie's "no hats indoors policy", which if I remember correctly was one of them bar "iron rules". The kind of rule she'd want kept up in her absence. You seem to have a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to the hats."


    Bob --

    "I'm guilty, I have a laissez-faire attitude about the hats. How about we forget about the hats today, considering there's a blizzard going on? And make tomorrow another day!"
     
    Frunobulax and BobHufford like this.
  17. jlee562

    jlee562 I'll Lock Up

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    My Optimo certainly isn't exceedingly better than my VS in a neatly quantifiable way relative to their prices. But there's a luxury market for most goods these days and Optimo is no different. I'd probably have to win the lotto to afford another one though. Heck, the first one was 'subsidized' by a stipend I got for a grad school summer seminar.

    I'm still signed up for the insider club just to look!

    Also, pedantic note for context: I checked an inflation calculator, a Stetson 100 bought in 1955 would be $971 in 2020 dollars
     
  18. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    I signed up for the Insider's Club.....brilliant marketing tactic and he has positioned himself so well in that luxury niche market.
     
    deadlyhandsome likes this.
  19. How about charging more for rabbit than beaver because it’s from the Orylag rabbit (I’m betting he doesn’t use the word “rabbit” in his marketing of it) to which he has an exclusive deal to use. Genius! To be fair, it is supposed to be great fur and I don’t have any personal experience with it.

    I love his business model and wish him success. He’s doing good work making great men’s hats fashionable and desirable.
     
    drmaxtejeda likes this.
  20. jlee562

    jlee562 I'll Lock Up

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    I see Orylag is actually a French registered trademark and the rabbits are the result of genetic manipulation and bred by only 15 farms (in 2015). Ok, fair, sounds expensive. It's like the Wagyu beef of hats!
     

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