The Facts That Will Answer Many of Your Questions

The Facts That Will Answer Many of Your Questions

  1. The Hat That Never Goes Out of Fashion 

Smooth as silk and light as the summer breeze, you may remember it from classic movies like The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird. There, alongside Robert Redford and Gregory Peck, the Panama hat was as integral to the cast as the leading actors who were wearing it. Its reputation only grew with time, and today you can admire the Panama hat everywhere, from the red carpet to the streets of SoHo. Royalty, politicians and Hollywood’s finest are regularly sporting this time-tested accessory, amongst them being Johnny Depp, Prince Charles, Brad Pitt, Meghan Markle and Jennifer Aniston.

But this is not your typical straw hat, and not any Panama hat will just do.

 2. Origins of the Panama Hat

It takes knowledge and finesse to appreciate an authentic hand-woven Panama hat. For that, you need to go back to the origins.

Contrary to popular belief and its misleading moniker, this hat originates not in Panama, but in Ecuador where, during the early 17th century, the locals started weaving it by hand from the toquilla palm straw, a plant which can only be found in the country’s equatorial forests. 

  1. Protection from Heat

Made of straws as fine as baby hair, the hat became indispensable in the tropical climate of Ecuador, its lightness guaranteeing comfort and airflow, as well as protection from blistering heat waves. It didn’t take long for other countries to appreciate its beauty and usefulness. 

  1. What Makes for an Authentic Panama Hat

An authentic Panama hat can only come from Ecuador. The centuries-long tradition of hand-weaving has been shared there from generation to generation, and today is considered to be a dying art, as mass manufacturing has taken over. That’s no surprise, considering that the making of a single Panama hat is a painstakingly laborious process that can stretch on for weeks, anywhere between 14 days and 8 months, for the finer Montecristi hats. 

  1. What Determines the Quality of a Panama Hat

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the density of the weaving, the higher the quality of the hat. The most luxurious hand-woven Panama hats will have between 2000-4000 weaves per square inch and cost thousands of euros, whereas the more affordable ones will tick 300-400 weaves per square inch for the price of hundreds of euros.


Wearing a Panama Hat Is a Priceless Experience

The investment is worth every cent though, since the Panama hat isn’t as much a product, as it is an experience of the finer things in life – it’s art, as well as fashion, an expression of tradition and the resilience of human artisanship. This much was recognized by UNESCO when they added the art of weaving the traditional toquilla hat to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in 2012.


To wear an authentic hand-woven Panama hat is a richly sensorial and aesthetically pleasing experience that has stood the test of time across cultures – it is hard to believe that it could ever go out of fashion. With its lightness and natural beauty, the Panama hat is the perennial crown jewel of summer wear.