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 Straw hats can be very practical protection from the sun.  We covered that aspect in the last blog.  But straw hats can also be very fashionable and that is where we are going next. 

RAFFIA

Raffia is durable straw with a great deal of flexibility.  It doesn’t dry and crack to the extent that Moroccan straw does and it creates headwear with quite a range from cowboy hats to high fashion boutique headwear.  The straw, originating in Madagascar, is lightweight and has a natural light brown color.   A favorite material in cowboy hats, raffia holds up in the weather and can achieve different looks from a coarse, thicker construction to lighter weaved designs that usually have wired brims that enables shaping. 

The raffia cowboy hats are often distressed with coloration that creates a well-worn look.  Prices of raffia cowboy hats from China saw a sharp increase this year, which resulted in many retailers turning to lindu straws or palm straw cowboy hats for economical western headwear. 

Raffia is also a player in high fashion straws for boutique headwear.  Both wide brims and kettles are popular in this category, but if we have to say one hat style is dominating the trends this summer, it would be widebrims. 

WHEAT STRAW

Wheat straw hats can have a wide range of price points.  The straw, which has a very light color, almost looks bleached.  Fifteen years ago, these hats discounters offered these hats in their millinery displays, but wheat straw hats have gained a lot of respect since then. 

The straw is first weaved and then continuously sewn to create the hat—a process called sewn-and-braid or sewn-and-weave.  One reason for the elevation of respect in these hats is the older generation that weaved the straw is disappearing and nobody wants to take the job today, so there is a shortage of weaved straw. 

Actually if we look back to the heyday of headwear, we will see Milan straws are made this way.  Milan straw used a fine weave sewn in narrow bands.  This could require three times as much straw as a wider weave in making the same hat.  Some high fashion hats on our site use this fine weave and wholesale in the high twenties. 

One customer called and asked if this is wholesale.  How can this straw hat be $27.00?  I showed her a similar hat tht was $8.00, but used the wider straw weave and explained all the extra weaving and sewing required to create the fine straw look that high-end boutiques want.  Unless customers will pay over $50.00 for an extraordinary straw hat, shops need to stay with the wider weaves that are far less expensive.  Either way, these straw hats are harder to get today and will no doubt continue to go up in price. 

POLYPROPYLENE

Speaking of Milan straws, polypropylene is mainly used to achieve the look today.  Yes, this is a synthetic and not a natural straw, but the material has been identified with dress hats all the way back to the 1950s and probably before. 

The hats have firm body and a close sewn-and-weave construction that comes in endless shapes for church hats or special event headwear.  The color range is fabulous so matching suits or dresses is easy.  Polypropylene hats are as popular today as they were decades ago, showing up at the royal wedding and other major events for dress hats like the Kentucky Derby. 

SINAMAY

 

Dress hats in sinamay have certainly taken center stage.  They are a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, making them a favorite of Britain and a huge influence on millinery everywhere.  Royal wedding watchers saw plenty of sinamay hats. 

Sinamay can be natural or synthetic.  The natural sinamay is spun from fibers of a banana tree called abaca’.  Originally, sinamay was material for making rope, but today uses include fabric, carpets, bags, and other handcrafts. 

Sinamay hats have mushroomed in popularity in the last few years, used mainly for dress hats suitable formal events and church wear.  The color range is wonderful and the stiffened fabric can create stunning shapes from conservative smaller brim hats to lavish widebrims that angle or roll down. 

Straw hats is one of the main internet searches for headwear in the summer, but straw hats can cover quite a range as this blog and the previous one show.  For the shopkeeper, straw hats can be a key item for summer inventory, so analyze your customer base and stock the hats that most appropriate for your clientele.  For many shops headwear is a very big plus in the summer months.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011


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