Use and Abuse of the Fedora

Use and Abuse of the Fedora

The internet is vocal on many subjects, but perhaps none more so than the subject of hat wearing. 

“A trilby on a big man looks like the reservoir tip on a condom,” crows Good Men Project, while Escapist Magazine earnestly preaches that wearing a hat can often come off as “as a desperate grab at confidence by someone who doesn't know better.”  

“Wear it reluctantly or ambivalently and there’s the danger that the hat will wear you,” instructs Mr Porter.       

The last piece of advice, at least, is right.   A sartorial celebration of form and function, the hat is the standard-bearer of unisex fashion accessories, and as such has a long history of use and abuse. 

*NYSNC, the rat pack, and the 1950’s mafia in particular are responsible for a near-fatal battering of one of the finest cheapeaus of the lot: the fedora.  Named after the 19th century play in which it first appeared, the fedora was first worn by that piquant, sultry actor Sarah Bernhardt.  As Ms Bernhardt was something of a sex symbol (some have described her as the 19th century’s answer to Lady Gaga),  the fedora was quickly embraced by the women’s rights movement.  The male fraternity only followed their lead about thirty years later after Prince Edward deigned to don one.  

Thick wool felt and indented crown aside, the fedora’s signature feature is its flat, wide brim.  And Sydney-based designer Sarah Curtis has taken this one step further with her new Australian merino wool fedoras.

Sarah’s expertise in headwear came about somewhat unexpectedly following the discovery of a melanoma. But with a background in fashion and a sudden, thorough education in sun safety (fast tracked due to having a one year old child and another on the way) Sarah discovered she was well equipped to dive into the industry.  

“After having the first hat made, I started having them made for friends and then friends of friends and it just grew from there,” Sarah has said. 

After launching her now-signature wide-brimmed panama hats, Sarah turned her attention to the Australian winter.  With the help of Australian merino wool growers and a handful of hat makers on the freezing cold Mongolian border of northern China (who, in Sarah’s words, “know how to process wool properly because… they have had to for hundreds of years,”) Sarah has produced completely original fedoras designed to protect its wearers from the harsh Australian winter sun.

“My hat makers are wonderful and very clever people,” says Sarah. “Historically the northern Chinese are very skilled craftsman and artists.”

The final results speak for themselves. In hues ranging from marbled grey to olive green, matched with unexpected and wonderful velvet and leather bands, there is no chance of these hats being worn with reluctance nor ambivalence. 

**

A limited number of Sarah Curtis' grey and olive green fedoras are now available.