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Derby Bowler Hats Derby Bowler Hats Derby Bowler Hats

Derby Bowler Hats

The bowler hat, commonly referred to as the derby hat, is a hard felt hat featuring a rounded crown and narrow brim. It has also been known as a bob hat, billy coke, billycock or bombín. It was commissioned in 1849 by Edward Coke, a british soldier, politician and the younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester. The very first men’s bowler hat was ordered from Lock & Co., London’s oldest milliner and was made by master hat makers, Thomas and William Bowler, with the instructions that the hat have a sturdy crown and fit closely to the head. The bowler hat was initially designed for protecting the heads of gameskeepers and coachmen from tree branches as they rode on horseback. Originally, gameskeepers wore top hats, but they were easily bumped off and ruined; hence Edward Coke commissioning the design of derby hats for men in order to protect his gameskeepers. According to accounts, upon picking up the completed hat, Edward Coke threw it on the floor and promptly stomped on it to check it’s durability. Passing his test, Mr. Coke paid 10 shillings and acquired one of the very first derby hats for sale, forever imprinting himself into history as the bowler hat guy.

Along with having interesting origins, the bowler hat is the first hat credited for being mass produced and priced to meet everyone's budget. With the introduction of the felt making machine, the price of felt was reduced and hats became far less expensive and easier to acquire. Due to its affordability and wide spread availability, the derby hat has been worn by virtually every class of society. In fact, it was so popular that it replaced the Top Hat in the late nineteenth century as the most popular hat for men. The men’s bowler hat remained the preferred men's hat for almost seventy years until the 1920's when the Fedora eclipsed the derby as the most popular hat style.

In the United States, the bowler hat became popular after Americans saw photos of the Earl of Derby sporting it at the horse races in England. It is from this recognition and association that the bowler hat was called the derby hat in the U.S.

From gameskeepers and coachmen in England to cowboys and trainworkers in the Wild West, the derby hat’s popularity throughout history is easy to follow. The men’s bowler hat can also be seen in pop culture through actors like Charlie Chaplin as the Tramp, Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange”, Paul Newman in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Our derby hats for sale come in many different styles; from the low-crown to the stingy brim. With different brim variations, crown heights, a variety of hat bands and trimmings and selection of colors, there’s a hat in our collection for virtually any bowler hat guy. We carry your classic black, grey or even a green bowler hat for especially festive occasions.