JUST USE YOUR HEAD!

Why do we love hats? Where to begin?! Let’s start with sheer vanity: headwear can make you look so much better! If you already wear hats, you know this. If you don’t, have a think about it. What other accessory affects your look in the way that millinery can? It’s on your head so can’t go unnoticed. Shape, colour and style all come into play. The right headwear can enhance your features and flatter the shape of your face, and having the right colour next to your face will give it a glow. Not only that, but your whole outfit will have a more pulled-together and coordinated look, be it casual or dressed up. And then different choices of headwear can give a different spin to the same set of clothes.

There are lots of good reasons for hat wearing. (We’ll ignore traditional, ethnic or religious headwear or headwear that’s part of a uniform.) Let’s take the practical. No one needs to be told nowadays of the need for protection from UV radiation. So it makes sense to wear a hat in summer to help keep the sun off your face. As we were taught at school, most of your body’s heat loss in winter is from the head. So it also makes sense to keep your head warm in winter by wearing a hat. Then there’s the theatrical. You can signal lots of different messages with your headwear. We feel quite different depending on the hats we’re wearing and that gives us the chance to have fun and to enjoy playing different roles in our everyday lives. We can literally and figuratively “wear many hats”. We also like hiding under our hats sometimes, such as at those awkward moments in crowds when it’s more comfortable to avoid eye contact. And let’s not forget bad hair days (or months or years): you can get rid of concerns about your hair by covering up your head.

We live in an era of mass produced cheap disposable fashion and expensive so-called luxury products that are nevertheless identically available in every major city. For this reason we cherish our millinery because it is so different and a true luxury product. Since the decline of large scale hat making in the mid 20th century, the art and craft of millinery has survived in the hands of individuals who design and make their works themselves (often as well as dealing with every other aspect of their business). Although we sometimes refer to them as “designers”, almost every milliner whom we stock does more than just design: they make their pieces themselves, with occasional helpers. To us, this gives their work an authenticity and special quality, not to mention rarity, that is usually missing in other areas of fashion, where design and making are divorced from each other.

It’s no accident that although we stock milliners and hatters from all around the world, the majority are based in London. Of all the countries in the world, Britain is probably the one where there are enough hat-wearing events such as royal garden parties, important horse races and a continuing tradition for wearing hats to weddings, as well as a tolerance for individualistic dress, to sustain more than a handful of hat makers.

Practically everyone we have dealt with in the world of hats is highly creative, delightful, fun, and a bit eccentric. We think that this might have something to do with the fact that in the world of handmade millinery you can hardly be in it for the money, so you must really love it. Confronted with the choice of ramping up production and potentially becoming a household name or remaining bespoke and exclusive to serve a small, appreciative clientele, our milliners tend to choose the latter. On the other hand, this also means that while many milliners aim to produce at least two collections a year, as the majority are one (wo)man bands, they can easily be sidetracked by other projects and events in their working or personal lives.

We have to admit though, we don’t love all hats without qualification. In fact, a lot of headwear out there causes our eyes to glaze over (too pedestrian) or to roll (too ridiculous – even we have limits). We just happen to love the work of certain milliners and hatters, so much so that we have not only bought their work for ourselves, but for you too! Each one occupies their own distinctive niche in our unparalleled offering of headwear.