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Straw hats seem to ring with a perceived value when you think of summer headwear.  But actually straw hats cover the whole range of value with crude palm straw on the lower end and Panama straws on the high end.




One very respected member of the straw hat family is Milan straws.  What ever happened to them?  Do they stillwholesale straw hats make straw hats in Milan?  Actually, according to Optimo Fine Hats, Milan was not the first place for manufacturing the hats we call Milan straws today.


A certain type of straw made these hats special and the soil was key to producing the straw.  First produced in England where they had the right mix of sandy soil, the hats were called “Dunstable twists”, deriving the name from the area


A few other countries had the right mix of soil and became producers of the hat, but eventually China produced the lions share.  During the Korean War, the US placed embargoes on Chinese products so Milan  imported the hats, marked them “Made in Italy”, and shipped them to the US.  Some believe this was the origin of the name “Milan straws”.  Optimo Hats says the origin was much earlier—in the 1800s when Britain imported the first Chinese hats, which were then called “Milans”.


The quality and feel of a Milan straw was superb, and may be unmatched today with the rare exceptions like the top quality Milan straws from Optimo Hats.  However, the process of weaving narrow strips of wheat straw and continually sewing them to make a hat continues, creating wholesale straw hats that have a wonderful boutique quality, even if they don’t compare with original Milan straws.



Today if you shop the hat selections of major discounters, you will see rush straw hats and toyo, but no braid-and–sewn straw hats.  Twenty years ago, these hats were in the discounter’s selection.  At this same time, these wholesale straw hats were selling between $4 and $7 at Accessory Wholesale.  What changed?


It was more than inflation.  The craftsmen in China that weaved the straw were aging and younger workers pursued fields that are more technical so the skilled labor force shrank.  The price of the hats continually rose and braid-and-sewn wheat straw hats disappeared from the racks of discounters.  These straw hats regained the respect due to such classy construction and again became headwear proudly displayed by upscale boutiques.



boutique style straw hatFor retailers, these wholesale straw hats fill lots of needs.  They come in a range of styles and come in a few colors.  One wholesale straw hat with 5 ½ inch wide brim that turns up at the edge is an ideal boutique hat.  Classic contrast of black grosgrain trim against the light color of wheat straw is eye-catching.  The grosgrain edges the brim and provides band and bow.



straw red hats

The classic kettle shape in straw hats comes in natural color as well as red for your customers that love their red hats.  Simplicity is in order here, with a 4 inch turned-up brim and black grosgrain band and bow.

ladies straw hat with brim down

Your customers that prefer a brim down look, will find their style in a wholesale straw hat shaped with a C indention in the crown and a 4 ½ inch brim angling down.  Again, the wheat straw hat has black grosgrain band and bow for trim.


gondolier hat

For customers that want the unusual in headwear, braid-and-sewn gondoliers offer the look of Venice Italy with a classic burgundy and navy band and bow.  What could be more classic than hats like the gondoliers wear on the canals of Venice with their flat crowns and 4 inch brims?

straw boater hat

For customers that like vintage inspired headwear, two wholesale straw hats deliver the turn-of-the-century look.  As the 1900s began, the boater was the leading headwear for men.  Every time election season comes around, the hat returns.  The braid-and-sewn wheat straw boaters have a firm body and classic burgundy and navy grosgrain trim.

straw boater

The other major hat style at the beginning of the 1900s was the derby, also called bowlers.  Wheat straw delivers the hat with rounded sturdy crown and 2 ½ inch brim that flips up all the way around.  The same classic burgundy and navy grosgrain band trims the hat with a bow on the side.

ladies classic straw hat

The newest wholesale straw hat in braid-and-sewn wheat is a lampshade that brings back memories of Audrey Hepburn.  The shape has a slightly domed flat crown and 3 inch rolled down brim.  Black grosgrain edges the brim and provides a band and bow.



Going to High Fashion Straw Hats on the website, you see a braid–and-sewn wheat straw hat for $27.00.  What makes this hat so expensive compared to the others?  The answer is narrower straw fibers are braided into narrower strips and sewn so a close look at the hat shows a much finer weave and construction.  To do this requires considerably more weaved straw material and labor.  Today hat don’t achieve the quality of Milan straws from decades ago, but this finished product begins to close the gap.  This is definitely and upscale boutique look in straw hats.


Most of these wholesale straw hats are affordable for the majority of shops and add classic design that many of your stylish customers are looking for, so mix some in with your millinery selection.  You will not only have stunning summer hats, but a story to tell with them.

Comments (0) Posted by Michael Gietl on Friday, July 19th, 2013

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