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Why does a Panama cost more?

Why does a Panama cost more?

my favourite Truffaux Panama hat - raw, super fine and beautiful

People often ask me why a Panama hat costs more?

It is because they are woven by hand and take a long time to make The simplest Panama takes around 8 hours, while a factory made hat takes only 10 minutes. The weaving itself is incredibly laborious, let alone the fifteen other people that are involved in harvesting, boiling, drying, stripping, finishing, pounding, colouring, shaping, trimming and dressing. It is an ancient craft, where everything is done by hand because it is the only way to do it.

the Toquilla palm - the Andean hemp plant

For a hundred years, people have been trying to machine manufacture Panama hats to no avail. This incredible straw cannot be tamed - it is too variable and impossible to machine weave - only the human hand and eye can do it. Instead, much of the world has gone the way of paper 'straw', poly 'straw' and sewn cloth - cheap, consistent and easy to mass manufacture. Frequently imitated, it is often difficult to recognise a fake Panama.

When weaving a hat the straw is chosen carefully and split using the thumbnail of the artisan. Each time they divide the straw, making the weave finer, the hat takes four times longer to weave. While your standard grade takes a day, the finest of finos will take six months and feel like linen. Able to hold water, and be rolled so finely that it can pass through a wedding ring (not that you would want to do that to a $5,000 hat).

The final result of all this effort is the best summer hat in the world. Light, breathable, beautiful and so far ahead of the field that it remains one of humanity's greatest living artforms. In the truest sense, you get what you pay for and there are no short-cuts with quality and function.


Beautiful Ecuadorians weaving their art of Panama hats


Panama hats are made to travel but there are some tricks

Comments on this post (1)

  • Mar 23, 2024

    I bought a Thomas Cook High Country hat from you three weeks ago – it’s fantastic, fits beautifully and is a pleasure to wear.

    — HAMISH Kenneth Murray SMITH

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