Panama Auténticos - The Genuine Article
Appreciated in the headwear industry for their quality of weave, durable consistency and elegant look, Panama hats for men and women are simply unrivaled by any other straw hat. The term “Panama Hat” has become synonymous with the classic look of a straw hat, but it is very important to note that not just any straw hat can earn the coveted Panama stamp.
Panama hats for men and women are some of the most beautifully made, one-of-a-kind hats in the world, and they are strictly a product of a village craft that has a history dating back over a century. in order to be considered an authentic Panama Hat, the hat must have been hand-woven in Ecuador; which brings up a common and obvious question…
if it is FROM ECUADOR, WHY is it CALLED a PANAMA STRAW HAT?
Yes, that’s right. Panama straw hats are made in Ecuador. But why not call it an “Ecuador” hat? To put it simply, it all goes back to the key factor in attaining retail success…location.
Back in the 1800’s, Ecuador wanted to sell their straw hats to the masses, but The problem was not many people were passing through the country. Due to their location, there was just no reason for people to travel through, enroute to another destination, nor was Equador known for tourism or as a commercial hot spot. With that said, in order for their hats to reach consumers, Ecuador had to ship their product to a location that was sure to have plenty of traffic.
Lying just a few hundred miles north of Ecuador, Panama was an ideal location to sell the hats. A short boat ride from Ecuador, Panama has a constant stream of people passing through it. It’s the narrowest point of land separating the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans anywhere from the Arctic Circle to the southern tip of South America. Prior to air travel, there were few options for travel between the East Coast of Canada or the U.S. to the West Coast (or vice versa): travel overland; take a ship around the tip of South America; or take a ship to Panama, travel across the isthmus, and hop onto another ship on the other side. of those options, the last was the fastest, and probably the least hazardous of the choices. So with that in mind, the straw hat makers in Ecuador decided to take their hats to Panama to sell them. They did well and there was a reasonable amount of traffic. Shortly after, gold was discovered in California and the number of people passing through Panama exploded exponentially.
At this point in history, Ecuador’s durable, lightweight, attractive straw hats were in high demand. They were great for deflecting the tropical sun of Panama, which was perfect for those long days spent outdoors in sunny California, panning for gold, and the hats were even nice to wear on a summer day in Philadelphia or Boston. People on their way to the gold fields purchased the hats and People returning home from the gold fields bought the hats. And when those customers arrived at their destinations, people would say, “Nice hat. Where’d you get it?” Of course, the response was, “Panama.”
Unfortunately, Ecuador had not put “Made in Ecuador” stickers inside all the hats, so with that detail overlooked, the result is that the hats became known as Panama hats. Hence Ecuador’s most famous export was, and is still called a Panama hat.
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