Are you going on a vacation to an exotic island with sandy white beaches? Then a Panama hat is must have accessory to your beach wear. Let us explore the history of the Panama hat which has led it to be one of the most sort after items by fashionistas around the globe.
Hollywood A-listers have also not been left out in this trend of the Panama hat. In recent years, different versions of this hat have been making a comeback. The hats of late have been worn by the high and mighty to achieve a much laid back look.
Where Did Panama Hats Come From?
Interestingly, Panama hats originated from Ecuador as opposed to Panama. Why the name Panama hats then? The name originates from the point of which these hats were bought from rather than from the place they were woven.
Panama hats are woven in two locations in Ecuador: Montecristi and Cuenca. The best quality hats are said to come from Montecristi while most of the hats are made in Cuenca. However, this is highly disputed.
A genuine Panama hat is woven from Ecuador using tequila. Toquilla is a type of straw gotten from the tall palm-type tree. Most of these hats were traditionally sold in Panama or mostly worn by people from this country. These hats were woven as early as 1626 where the Incas would weave them using toquilla.
The hat is made using toquilla leaves that are harvested during a particular time and left to dry. The drier the leaves, the better quality the hat will have. The dried leaves are then women into the unmistakable round shape of the hat.
How Did Panama Hats Become So Popular?
Panama hats became popular early 18th century when gold prospectors heading to the United States would stop over and purchase them. So much was the traffic moving through Panama in pursuit of gold that the Panama hat became a signature look for the prospectors.
The American also contributed to the popularity of the Panama hat when it bought almost 50, 000 hats for its soldiers during their war against Spain.
Another boom for the Panama hats was during the construction of the Panama Canal. Workers opted to wear these hats to help shield them from the scorching tropical sun.
Evolution Of The Panama Hat
In the mid 18th century, the Panama Hat or Sombrero as it’s known as the natives was a wide-brimmed hat. They were light in weight and were woven for practical uses as Ecuadorians went on their chores.
However, as the hats penetrated into Panama, people in business decided to brand them to cash in on the high demand. At this point, the name ‘Panama Hats’ was coined and has been used ever since.
To know a high-quality Panama hat, you establish the number of weaves in the hat. The more the weaves, the higher the price of the hat.
Now you know the history of that luxurious looking hat that you love to rock so much.