Panama Hats

The Panama Hat is widely known to be the most superior of all summer protection hats as they are the most lightweight and breathable. They can also add a boost of style to any outfit, be it a summer dress, jeans, or smart suit and are perfect for holidays or the city. We use award-winning hand-woven straws which are all sustainable and fair-trade.

If you are looking for a ladies Panama Hat then we have a good variety for you to choose from. We currently have trilby shapes and wider brims. We have used colourful braids and trims to decorate our shapes, some peruvian bands and pom-poms, some wide neon geometric trims, or for a smarter look, a standard plain band is also available. The bands are interchangeable – so you can pick any hat and any band colour, and even order extras. It’s amazing how different a hat can look if we change the band from a neon pink to a black faux snakeskin! If you’d like a specific colour for a band, please do ask.

Regarding how to wear a panama hat; this depends on the shape you choose and your physique. A wide brim panama hat will look great on a taller lady, and can be worn straight across the forehead, or tipped back, halo style. We offer two sizes of trilby, the larger one better for taller or larger ladies, or the smaller one with a smaller brim which is better for a smaller frame. With colours, a bleached / whiter colour tends to look smarter, and a more natural tan could look a bit less formal. Our pastel or bright colours are fantastic for the summer.

Heads up – making unisex / mens Panama’s is on the cards….. Watch this space….

Where did the Panama Hat originate? You’d be forgiven for thinking the answer is Panama, but they are actually handwoven in Ecuador. They got their name due to the Panama Canal trading post that shipped products from all over South America in the 19th and early 20th Century to the rest of the world.

Ecuador has one of the worlds longest lasting weaving traditions. It’s an amazing process and you get many different grades, depending on the tightness in which the workers weave and how thin they split the straw.

A genuine panama hat can take weeks to weave, depending on the fineness of the straw. Initially the leaves of the toquilla plant are picked and boiled to remove the chlorophyll and then they are air and sun dried. The weaver then splits the blades of grass to the thinness which is in accordance with the fineness of the hat they want to weave. Then, the weaving and knotting process starts.

Ours are genuine Panama Hats and we work with Ecuadorian women to bring you great designs, in a variety of shapes and sizes.

By buying a Sahar Millinery Panama Hat means you’re supporting women in Ecuador, who are all paid fairly, and work without the use of harsh chemicals, instead, they bleach the hats in the sun and work in the park or market square benches with their friends and children around them. Panama weaving is generations, and usually weaves are part of a ‘weaving family’ with the children playing with the straw off-cuts and eventually learning to weave and knot. Weaving is a way of life for the Ecuadorian weaving families. They are proud of their work and are preserving an ancient craft.

Most are lightly coloured, sun bleached hats, but If you prefer a colour, we have made custom orders in lovely colours (duck egg blue, yellow, pale pink to name a few), and our black and white wide brim panama hat is our most popular.

The origin of Panama Hats can be traced back to the 16th Century. The beautiful headpieces worn by the natives of Ecuador and their weaving of the Toquilla palm plant were noticed by the Spanish conquerors. In the 17th Century the weaving practices got more sophisticated and started to gain worldwide popularity when a man called Manuel Alfaro, native to Ecuador, was the first to recognise the trade potential of this craft and set up his export business. The construction workers working on the Panama Canal would wear them and the hats caught the attention of many Americans who travelled through Panama to reach California. The hats became much sought after and an essential item of protection from the harsh sun.

The name Panama Hat became famous, when in 1906 a photo of President Theodore Roosevelt appeared in the New York Times wearing a black banded straw hat. He was visiting the Panama Canal Excavation. This photo became iconic – becoming known as ‘The Presidents Panama Hat’ and boosted the popularity of Panama Hats worldwide. Now, the hats are considered timeless, and appear in many glossy magazines, Hollywood movies, and worn by the Royals.

If you are wondering where to buy a Panama hat in London, then you have come to the right place. Scroll across to see what is available, and be sure to contact us if you have a specific request, eg extra trims, or head size. We have a good variety stocked at our studio / showroom in Central London so feel free to contact us to come and try: [email protected]

The default size is medium (size 22.5 inches) but we can make other sizes to order, so please do ask.

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