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And They’re Off! - The Kentucky Derby, Still Going Strong

March 27th, 2009 | 4 Comments | Posted in Hats in the News

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I’ve never been a fan of horse racing, but I am a fan of sports in general. So if the Big Browns of the racing world are going for the Triple Crown, I’ll keep an eye out. That being said, I’ve always been somewhat fascinated with the Kentucky Derby. The pageantry and grand scale of the event is probably unlike any other annual event in the United States.

During tough economic times like this, I couldn’t help but wonder what that would mean for the Derby (especially since the company that owns Pimlico (Preakness) just recently filed for bankruptcy).  Bill Simmons, one of my favorite ESPN columnists, wrote an article in February about the toned-down feel of this year’s NBA All Star weekend. He attributed much of the lack of celebrity and extravagant spending to the state of our economy.

Curious about how this recession could effect the Kentucky Derby, I looked for some insight from famed hat designer Christine A. Moore. Christine has been designing and making Derby-style hats for over 15 years, and has been commissioned as the official milliner for this year’s Derby. To my surprise, Christine told me that designer hats were still in demand, corporate boxes are on a waiting list at Churchill Downs, and individual ticket sales were strong. Louisville’s major fashion magazine, Her Scene, even added 17 more pages to accommodate for all the advertisers!
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After thinking about what she said, it makes a lot of sense. What’s a better way to step outside yourself for one day than to get dressed up and enjoy the pageantry of the Derby? People who celebrate the Derby year after year have been saving up money for their outfit and hat. If you can’t afford to go to the Derby (most people can’t!), Derby parties are always a fun thing to put together.

So men, grab a straw boater, fedora, or top hat. Women, don the beautiful big brims and classic cloches. Get some appetizers, fix a couple of mint juleps (4 mint sprigs, 2 1/2oz bourbon whiskey, 1 tsp powder sugar, and 2 tsp water), and enjoy the races!

- James

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“Murino Wool” - No, that’s not a typo…

March 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Men's Hats

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You may have curiously looked at the Belfry Frankie - Murino Classic Snap Fedora, and wondered out loud “have these people ever heard of Spell-Check?” Well, thankfully I have (it has saved me from many, many typos before). Spell-Check has recognized “Murino” so many times that I just added it to the dictionary, because no, Spell-Check, that’s not a typo…

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Merino Wool. Wikipedia defines the Merino as “the most economically influential breed of sheep in the world, prized for its wool. Merinos are regarded as having the finest and softest wool of any sheep.” Because of its soft feel and fine texture, Merino Wool is used throughout the clothing industry, namely by quality retailers like Banana Republic and Express. The sweaters and coats made from this type of wool are popular because they are regarded as superior to regular wool.

The idea behind our Belfry Purple Murino Collection is just the same. When we decided to create our own line of better hats, we not only had quality in mind, but value as well. Instead of using fur felt or pure Merino Wool for our fedoras, we used the wool of sheep raised and sheared in Texas. Because of the warm Texas climate, the sheep there are sheared more often than regular sheep, ensuring that the wool is finer and softer. The wool is then brushed after it is woven, further adding to the silky soft touch and slight nap of the material.  With this process, we were able to deliver the same look, feel and quality of fur felt and Merino Wool, while still keeping the cost down and not harming any animals in the process.

Belfry Murino Fedora

The end product not only has a vintage look and incredible feel, but has a unique upbringing that you will not find in any other hat on the market. Murino has become a part of OUR dictionary, with a meaning that embodies the abstract idea behind what we are determined to bring to the fashion scene. With that said, we still think the hats speak for themselves.

- James

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