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The March issue of Accessories Magazine has just come out with the annual census, reporting accessory sales by category for 2010.  Coverage of hats extols the new generation of shoppers that have once again lifted headwear to a leading fashion accessories category.   Accessories Magazine reports “Dollar sales jumped 13% last year, pushing the category up even from the 14% increase in 2009”.  The lions’ share of sales went to specialty stores that had 36% of total sales, swamping every other category of outlets for hat sales.  The magazine predicts further increase in hat sales for 2011, so what are the styles we should be considering?


Teen stores accounted for a large percentage of sales in the specialty market and teen love trendy looks that celebrities promote.  In trendy headwear, the fedora is king.  The popularity of fedoras increases with the arrival of each new season and now we enter the spring season where straw fedoras will definitely be a sensation.  Especially distressed straw fedoras offer a rustic look that is also durable.  Weaved lindu straw fedoras come distressed with a rigid construction that holds up in weather.  Other styles use natural straw with vented crowns and are slightly more flexible. 


Go through the casual hat category and you will find fedoras in a wide variety of materials as well as many colors.  Fedoras in houndstooth, plaids, solid colors in microfiber, and faux leather are a sampling of the designs available.  Fedoras appeal to guys and gals alike and the main market is teens and twenties that are influenced by celebrity styles. 


Wide brim hats take the trophy for fashionable looks in headwear.  Ralph Lauren introduced super wide brims in spring fashion shows a few seasons ago and the style has continued to grow each season since.  This year 7 inch brims are turning heads with their fabulous look that is perfect for derby day.  This suave style of headwear is also outstanding for outdoor teas, luncheons, weddings, and garden parties.  A similar widebrim hat with 6 inch brims offers the look with less bounce. 


Casual widebrims use sewn-and-braid toyo or ribbon hats while dressy hats have 5 ½ inch brims in polypropylene that delivers a Milan straw look.  The dressy hat is covered in Part I and can be trimmed. 


Cowboy hats are an American icon that seems to be timeless.  In the past decade, most were made in China and this season may cause some sticker shock because of rising prices in Chinese goods.  The reason for the increase in prices is raising cost of materials, labor, energy, and increases due to the exchange of the dollar rate. 

Nevertheless, many cowboy hats had only slight increases and the addition of some hats made in Mexico offer another low cost option.  Cowboy hats will always be a player in the hat business, but for the last decade, cowboy hats have been a leading category in casual hats.  The boom started with J-Lo and Brittany Spears appearing in roll-up straw cowboy hats.  That started a rage in the headwear that has never died. 

The well-worn look of distressed straw in roll-ups with pinch front shape leads the cowboy hat category year after year—especially if the cowboy hats are shapeable.   This provides a look of rugged individualism and shaping lets shoppers suit their personality.  The look returns again this year.  New designs in raffia have the advantage of a more flexible straw that is often crushable, but the cost of raffia has really seen an impact with rising prices. 

To avoid sticker shock, wholesalers introduce other weaved straws like lindu.  The shape and distressed coloration.are right to grab customer’s attention.  These straws have great durability, able to withstand the weather.  Beyond straws, there are plenty of cowboy hats to fit all kinds of needs as well as personalities. 

Colors are back in 2011 with white and black being most popular.  Most hats with color are toyo because the material dyes easily.  Toyo is actually a paper product, spun into yarn, and resin coated.  Late last summer saw the introduction of two new styles of toyo cowboy hats with an open weave in natural, white, and black colors.  One style has a tightly rolled brim and the other is a modified pinch front.  Both are very affordably priced. 

Accessories Magazine reports solid gains in hat sales.  This is happening quietly with many retailers missing the boat.  Take advantage of demand outstripping supply and include some wholesale hats in your accessory mix to pick up summer sales.

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