Luxury Panama Hats made by MCO - available with crocodile, alligator, Python, Ostrich fixed strip band
Braided hat in ecuadorian palm young shoots (Grade13 Cuenca quality of braiding).
alligator leather strip bands with tone on tone stitching.
Crocodile, Python, Alligator, Ostric colors available:
Colors can be fully custom made
Head size (in cm): 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65.
Head size (in inches): 21.6, 22, 22.4, 22.8, 23.2, 23.6, 24, 24.4, 24.8, 25.2, 25.6.
To know your head size, you can refer to our diagram.
1. The Panama hat is made entirely in Ecuador
This fact usually tops the list of Panama hat facts. Though it may no longer be “little known”, it’s a fun fact to share since many people still believe that the Panama hat is made in Panama, an easy assumption to make!
Panama hats are hand-woven in Ecuador by craftsmen hailing from the cities of Cuenca and Montecristi. These hats became known as “Panama hats” due to their massive export from Ecuador to Panama during the 19th century, promoted by Manuel Alfaro y Gonzalez and his wife during the construction of the Panama Canal. Legend has it that Manuel Alfaro y Gonzalez provided the hat that Theodore Roosevelt was photographed using during the Panama Canal inauguration on the condition that he said that the hat had been made in Ecuador, which did not happen. To make the Panama hat’s origin even more unclear, the hats were exported worldwide from Panama, leading people to associate them with their shipping origin rather than their manufacturing origin.
Creating a Panama hat includes over 30 steps, from the selection and harvest of the toquilla straw to the tightness of the weave. The two most common weave patterns for the Panama Hat are the Brisa and the Cuenca. Read more about Panama hat weave patterns here.
2. The Panama hat is made from toquilla straw
Toquilla straw comes from the leaves of the toquilla palm, whose scientific name is “carludovica palmata”. The plant is grown on the Ecuadorian coast, mainly in the province of Manabí. Farmers cultivate the toquillales and harvest the stems before separating the fiber from the outer skin. This is boiled to remove chlorophyll and dried for bleaching. Using this fiber, weavers produce the pattern, the crown and the brim of the hat and complete the process by washing, bleaching, oven treatment, ironing and pressing. Weaving a hat can take from one day to eight months, depending on its quality and finesse.
3. Not all Panama hats are equal (Learn More Link)
Though no industry-wide grading systems and standards exists for Panama hats, everyone can agree that quality can greatly vary among hats and sellers. Buyer beware… One seller’s grade 10, for example, can vary greatly from another seller’s grade 10.
A Panama hat’s quality is determined by a variety of factors, most notably the straw and the weave.
- The Straw: In general terms, the finer, the more identical, and the more evenly colored the straw, the better the quality of the hat.
- The Weave: The denser the weave and the more even they are, the better the quality of the hat.
Oftentimes, hats are categorized as “Montecristi fino” or “Montecristi superfino” and so on. Some manufacturers and retailers supply numbered grades, such as 1-20, but, as previously mentioned, these aren’t universally recognized terms.
The best way to measure the fineness of a woven hat is to count the rows of weave per inch (or 2.5 centimeters), first horizontally then vertically. Read more about Panama hat grades.
The finest Panama hats have over 2,000-4,000 weaves per square inch, taking the hat maker between four and eight months to produce. Taking into consideration the time and skill involved, these hats will not come cheap.
4. Panama hats come in a variety of styles
A Panama hat’s style is determined by two primary characteristics: the shape and size of the brim and the crown.
The most common Panama hat styles are:
Fedora Panama hat
The Fedora style rose to fame during the 1940s, being the hat of choice in a variety of classic films, including Casablanca and Key Largo. It remains the most popular style today, and includes a variety of variations.
The simplest weave pattern. This weave is made by crisscrossing (or weft-and-wafting) straw to create diamond-shaped squares throughout the hat. The interlocking pattern allows the weaver to use fine straw that is thinner than usual. As a result, hats made using the Brisa weave appear finer and lighter. Historically, the majority of Montecristis and high-grade Panamas have been made with the Brisa pattern even though it is the least complicated pattern. These fine hats are usually rated on the consistency of the weaver and the thinness of the straw rather than the complexity of the weave. Brisa weaves that are made as tight and flat as possible are sometimes called Llano or Brisa-llano.
Examples of hats that use the Brisa weave:
The second most common and oldest weave pattern. Hats made using the Cuenca weave appear to have a chevron (or herringbone-like) pattern. This weaves allows the weaver to work with thicker straw since there is more space between weaves. The space between weaves is ideal for warmer climates since more air can travel through the hat allowing sweat and moisture to evaporate which keeps your head cool. The Cuenca weave typically creates more durable hats since this looser weave permits greater flexibility. However, the larger gauge of straw that is normally used with this weave might also play a role in the hat’s longevity. Similar to the Brisa-llano, hats that are woven tightly and where the straw lays flat using the Cuenca weave are called Cuenca-llano.
While the Brisa and Cuenca are the oldest and most traditional weave types, new modern weaves have created other beautiful straw textures that were not commonly seen before.
The History of Panama Hat's / President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Picture from Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
A Panama Hat, also known as an Ecuadorian Hat, a jipijapa hat, or a toquilla straw hat, is a traditional brimmed straw hat of Ecuadorian origin. Traditionally, hats were made from the plaited leaves of the Carludovica palmata plant, known locally as the toquilla palm or jipijapa palm, although it is a palm-like plant rather than a true palm.
Ecuadorian hats are light-colored, lightweight, and breathable, and often worn as accessories to summer-weight suits, such as those made of linen or silk. The tightness, the finesse of the weave, and the time spent in weaving a complete hat out of the toquilla straw characterize its quality. Beginning around the turn of the twentieth century, these hats became popular as tropical and seaside accessories owing to their ease of wear and breathability.
Panama hats can be seen on the heads of Inca statues in the shape of a triangular cone -the tradition of weaving hats in Ecuador has been around for over 500 years.
The hats global fame came by an unusual quirk of history, the Panama Isthmus, which links the North and South America. It gave its name to the elegant hat known throughout the world as ‘The Panama Hat’ due to the Panama Canal trading post that shipped products from all over South America.
Despite their name, Panama hats have never been made in Panama, and originate in Ecuador, the only place in the world that has such a long lasting weaving tradition. The construction workers whose strength was tested building the Panama canal used Ecuadorian Hats as protection from the harsh sun.
The name ‘Panama Hat’ was introduced in 1906, when photos of President Roosevelt were published in the press, while he was overseeing the Panama Canal construction.
Year after year Panama weaving has become a generational matter and usually weavers are part of a weaving family'- grandmothers and grandfathers teaching families across generations starting with the game of playing with small straw off cuts from the floor and as then as adults learning the dextrous skill of knotting the panama fibres into a beautiful handmade hat.