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What Is a Panama Hat?

Submitted by on September 26, 2010 – 9:10 pm

A genuine Panama Hat can come in dozens of styles by many different hat brands, such as a center dent fedora by Stetson or a pork pie by Borsalino.

The key is all in the straw. A true Panama hat is made of straw that is hand woven in Ecuador. A genuine Panama will be stamped on the inside of the crown to indicate it was woven in Ecuador. However, as these stamps are sometimes difficult to read, you also can tell a Panama hat by the weave of the crown. While other hats might be woven this way, too, a genuine Panama’s weave always starts at the center of the crown and works its way out in a circular pattern.

Wait a second, why are these hats called Panamas when they are woven in Ecuador?

To get the answer, you must go back more than a century. These light-weight hats that provide both a little shade and ventilation were very popular with the men who dug and built the Panama Canal. Ecuadorian natives nearby would weave and sell the men these hats. These hats were so popular that the men began bringing them back to the United States…and thus began a new summertime fashion craze.

Check out our wide selection of Panama hats at Hats Plus.

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