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Fedoras – continue their trendy popularity thanks to innovative colors and the fact that no other hat has stepped up to take the spotlight. These hats are mainly unisex. Also important for the younger market, celebrities are wearing them.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

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Wide Brim Hats — The most popular hat for women every summer is wide brims,the traditional rounded crown with 4 to 7 inch wide brims. This year neutral colors with animal print scarf bands are important and also tropical color wide brim hats.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Sunday, June 8th, 2014

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Festivals and Outdoor Events

The other story in hats is casual hats–fashion hats for vacations; straw hats and cowboy hats for festivals and outdoor events; fedoras and caps for a cool summer look.

Widebrims are big story in fashion hats every spring and summer. Changes are minor and the hats have different color choices, but the wide brim summer hat for women is never out of style for long-everything from 4 to 7 inch brims.

Cowboy hats are just as timeless. There are so many looks in western hats-authentic western hats for rodeos and country music halls; rugged straw cowboy hats that have character; cowboy hats for outdoor work and events; cowgirl hats in fashion colors. Styles are just as diverse from cattleman crease to pinch front or gambler shapes. From beaches to festivals, there is a market for cowboy hats.

Then there are the hats for personality-hats that create an image. Especially younger customers like these hats-stingy brim fedoras, apple caps, ivy caps, and specialty ball caps. As we move into summer, it is casual hats that will be the important category in headwear. But right now there is a balance between dress hats and casual. Both are important.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Saturday, May 17th, 2014

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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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OK, the title was a trick question because the answer is almost all businesses.  First, think about all the businesses that can use the durable straw hats popular at festivals and for outdoor workers.  Whether your business caters to fishermen, gardeners, vacationers, beach outings, outdoor workers, or sports fans, these durable straw hats provide sun protection for your customers.



Exactly what kind of straw hats are we talking about?  Mainly inexpensive hats in palm or rush straw with a brim.  See the safari hat shown.  It fits nicely into this category.  The rush straw has a vented crown that allows air to pass through and a four inch brim that provides shade.  A chin cord keeps it from blowing away on windy days.


inexpensive widebrim straw gambler

This family of hats is great for nearly anything outdoors.  One especially handsome hat is the gambler with a four inch brim.  You have probably seen this style with a narrower brim, but what a difference one more inch of brim makes not only for sun protection but also for a suave look.


Palm straw also provides durable hats for summer.  One popular seller is the straw lifeguard shown.  Staining the natural straw darkens the color for an exceptional look and it also has a chin cord to keep the hat from blowing away.  These lifeguards, made in Mexico, come with slightly different sizes, which ship randomly and are not marked for size.



wide brim ladies hat

Wholesale hats for boutiques are obviously not the inexpensive straw hats discussed above.  They need a fashion look, a resort wear look.  Wide brims still rule for this market.  The sassy look of swingers with brims from 4 inches to 7 inches and more.  Ribbon hats are popular boutique items.  First, they have that sassy fashionable look with floppy wide brims and second they are packable for vacation wear.  What exactly is a ribbon hat?  These hats use continuously sewn bands of grosgrain to create designs that are usually wide brims.

ladies straw hat

Boutique hats are also fond of that Milan straw look.  The name obviously originates in Milan Italy and refers to a sewn-and-braid construction.  What in the world does that mean?  It is a process of weaving narrow strips of straw and then continuously sewing them to create the hat shape.





Accessory stores cover a wide range of shops and the target audience has a lot to do with the answer toinexpensive straw fedora this question.  Shops catering to a young trade still find fedoras the runaway best seller. Straw fedoras are especially good in summer.  Inexpensive rush straw hats like the one shown do just fine.  They are durable and add personality—that is what makes them popular.


Toyo fedoras provide a wide range of fashionable designs.  When you look inside a too hat, you are often taken back by a label that reads “110% paper”.  It doesn’t look or feel like paper.  What are they talking about?  Toyo comes from a variety of sources.  Panama straw hats that can cost a few hundred dollars are also called toyo.  That toyo comes from palm fibers.  This is top quality, but not hats everyone can afford.


The toyo referred to as paper toyo is twisted paper fiber that becomes very tough and can take a beating, but not a downpour.  They hold up very well as long as they don’t get soaked in the rain.  But the price makes these hats affordable for everyone.


summer fedorasMost summer fedoras are made of toyo.  New styles include the unisex look shown that comes in a choice of basic colors. It’s a stingy brim, very popular today.  Stingy brims have a short brim, usually 1 ½ to 2 inches that turns up in the back and down in the front—the Frank Sinatra look that many celebrities are sporting today.


The panama straw look is also a popular hat for accessory shops.  As mentioned above, the genuine panama straws have costs that easily go into the hundreds.  But accessory stores can buy similar looking hats at wholesale prices under $10.00.  These hats are either weaved toyo or twisted toyo that leaves fine openings in the weave—the look of golf hats from a decade ago.  These fedoras often have flat brims that are 2 ½ to 3 inches wide.  This is another hat worn by celebrities today.   It brings to mind Humphrey Bogart and those black and white movies that graced the silver screen.



Many hat wholesalers that handle church hats try to sell out of inventory by Mother’s Day.  This leaveswhite dress hats the impression that dressy hat business in summer hats ends on that day.  Untrue!  It may slow after Mother’s Day, but there is still plenty of need.


Outdoor weddings increase in the summer and they often call for white dress hats.  With supply low, the shops that have inventory have a captive audience.  Wide brims are most popular in bridal hats, but depending on the brides taste, smaller hats like pillboxes also sell.


Church groups are another major market for dress hats in the summer.  Many congregations have conventions or workshops in the summer and ladies attending need to wear a white hat on a particular day of the event.  This creates a large demand for white dress hats.  To meet these demands, we added a category of Dress Hats in White to our site.



Are cowboy hats only for western shops?  Not anymore!  For nearly a decade now, cowboy hats havecowgirl hats in vibrant colors been a fashion statement.  When J-Lo and Britney dominated the celebrity magazines in rolled straw cowboy hats, demand shot up and beach shops to mall shops had racks of choices.


The frenzy has cooled, but he cowboy hat remains a steady item nearly everywhere casual hats are sold.  Innovation helps drive the demand.  Last summer bright colors provided a surprise in the fashion palette and cowboy hats responded with vibrant color choices.


But for summer, straw cowboy hats that are shapeable remain the backbone of western hats sales.  Thisstraw cowboy ahts icon of the Wild West is timeless.  It is so ingrained in the American culture that it sells everywhere—even outside the USA.  Cowboy hats create personality like no other hat so expect them to always be in demand and always be found in shops beyond the western stores.


Maybe we haven’t covered every possible retail business, but is easy to see that wholesale hats fit into almost every business related to fashion or apparel.

Comments (0) Posted by Michael Gietl on Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Filed under Casual Hats, Cowboy Hats, Dress Hats, Hats
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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 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 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. 


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. 



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

Filed under Casual Hats, Cowboy Hats, Hats, Uncategorized
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 The search for straw hats really spikes in the summer months.  Google’s keyword tool shows searches jump to a whopping 60,000+ per month this time of year.  The results served up for straw hats are all over the board because there are so many different kinds of straws.  So let’s sort them out.

First straw hats can be for fishing, gardening, farming, or working outdoor.  They can also be for the beach, vacationing, fashion, teas, or garden parties.  The uses are wide ranging and so are the hats and straw materials that fit the bill.


This blog will cover practical straw hats used for work and sun protection and the next will review straw hats from a fashion angle.  The workhorse in the practical category is lindu straw. This rugged straw holds up in the weather and has a tinsel strength that makes it semi-shapeable with out breaking. 

Information is scarce on lindu straw.  There s a city in China called Lindu and a forest in Indonesia.  Either one could be the source for the name.  When we say these hats are the workhorse of straw headwear, it is not an overstatement.  Lindu straws provide traditional gardening hats with round crowns and wide brims, as well as safaris, lifeguards, and gamblers—the practical hats that provide sun protection without worrying about fashion. 

Lindu straw is charting new territory this year because of the price escalation of raffia and toyo.  Lindu is becoming an affordable medium for cowboy hats.  Shaping and distressing the straw results in attractive designs for western hats that remain affordable as the price of raffia moves up. 


Corn is over $7.00 a bushel so farmers are happy and nothing is going to waste thanks to maize and corn stock hats that deliver a straw in a bleached white appearance.  These hats withstand the elements with a durable construction and differ from most other straws with a rather coarse texture and bleached white color.   Popular shapes are fedoras and wide brims. 


Popular for cowboy hats, Moroccan straw is coarse with firm body that can still be shaped.  The straw can dry and crack more easily than raffia, but it has a rugged look and feel that customers love. 


The most common use for bamboo is lifeguard hats or the conical hats seen in the Orient.  The bamboo is split and fairly stiff, creating very durable headwear that can take the elements.  Lifeguard hats often use bamboo for the body that can take a beating outdoors while it protects from the wearer from the sun with its wide brims that angle down.  Usually the hats have a high crown sometimes with a cattleman crease and others that are a pinch front style. 


Palm straw hats, usually made in Mexico, can run the gamut in quality and price.  The number of strands of braid per inch determines the quality with lower number of strands providing economically priced hats.  Cowboy hats most commonly use palm straw and high number of strands can have the fine weaved look of a Panama straw. 

The wider look in weaved straw provides the economical cowboy hats that are capturing a larger percentage of the market, picking up some of the business that is shying away from hats made in China because of escalating prices.  Together with lindu straws, these two materials are mushrooming in popularity because the raffia straws and toyo hats from China have jumped in price this year. 

Palm straw hats have a stiffer body and are semi-shapeable.  Some designs are distressed with a staining process that often uses coco.  Others have a singed pattern that delivers a handsome hat.  Economical palm hats are answering the need for cowboy hats that look good at inexpensive prices. 


Seagrass is a material with a history in hat making.  Actually, there are several species used to make hats referred to as seagrass, but the most common is a marsh grass that habitats the shallow waters in areas of China. 

Perhaps the most familiar seagrass hat is the golfer in twisted seagrass that is lacquered and provides an open weave.  Because of the openings, they often have an underbrim to protect from the sun.  Lacquering delivers a firm body that retains its shape and helps the hats survive a light rain.  Women’s hats often use crocheted seagrass, but the headwear has a flimsy body.  The color is a dark sage green or brown, which distinguishes it from most straws. 

Next blog continues the survey of straws used in headwear, concentrating on more fashionable designs.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Filed under Casual Hats, Cowboy Hats, Hats
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 Memorial Day is drawing near and that marks the official opening of summer sales and the vacation season.  Festivals are in full swing as well as church picnics, baseball, auto racing, and so many other outdoor events.  With all of this fun going on outdoors, one thing retailers can count on is hats selling to provide relief from the sun. 



Each season sees some innovations in headwear and this season is no exception.  Let’s begin with fedoras.  Both stingy brim fedoras like Frank Sinatra wore and the fifties fedoras like our dads and granddads wore are the “in” thing.  Yes, celebrities have been showing up in magazines wearing fedoras for the last couple of years, but now the look has caught on in a big way and popularity is mushrooming. 


Vendors retailing at festivals are gobbling up fedoras, especially straw fedoras.  You might wonder how much sun protection can you get with a stingy brim fedora?  It makes no difference.  Musicians are wearing them, celebrities are wearing them, and this has a big impact on especially the younger shoppers. 

The favorite fedoras for festivals and casual wear in the sun are straws.  For the most part, they are inexpensive—wholesaling between $2.50 and $5.50.  This gives vendors room to make money and still offer the hats at prices anyone attending festivals is comfortable with. 

But evenings out call for a different fedora.  The range of designs has really expanded with the popularity growth of these hats.  New designs include prints covered with clear sequins that add shine.  Floral prints and animal prints are a big hit here.  Speaking of sequins, the sparkle hats that have been around a few years are on top again—this time in fedoras.  These are great for the gals, but what about the guys?

Solid colors and pinstripes are popular for guys, and don’t forget the Bear Bryant look with houndstooth patterns.  Also the straws mentioned earlier are unisex hats that appeal to guys and gals alike. 



Still leading in popularity, cowboy hats seem timeless especially in the summer heat when straw western hats peak as a favorite in sultry weather.  A major change this season is the introduction of more cowboy hats made in Mexico.  China has dominated the cowboy hat business the last several seasons, but several factors are influencing price, making the Mexican hats far more affordable. 

Actually, most products from China are seeing significant price increases.  Economist Magazine reports factory wages have increased 69% from 2005 to 2010.  Wage growth is expected to continue by 17% per year until 2015.  Add to that higher cost of materials, transportation, and an unfavorable currency exchange and the result is major changes in the cowboy hat business. 

Raffia straw and toyo hats are slowing because of higher prices and lindu straw with western hat shapes and distressed coloring are filling the void along with Mexican hats already mentioned.  Still, cowboy hats are a major player in the summer headwear business and something that needs to be in your hat selection for customers involved in outdoor activities. 


The wide brim hat continues to grow in popularity, with each summer season drawn to ever widening brims.  This summer seven inch brims are not uncommon.  The super widebrims with a sassy bounce are definitely high fashion.  This year a 7 inch ribbon hat is grabbing attention because this headwear delivers the fashionable look in material that is crushable and packable, so easy to travel with your customers on vacation. 

Continuously sewn wide bands of grosgrain ribbon create the hat that has wonderful color options for the season.  Two-tone white and black are new and quickly rising to the number one color choice. 

What’s the most popular wide brim hat?  Our style number, HTC677.  The hat has a crocheted look with a 4 inch brim and a choice of excellent fashion colors.  But what attracts retailers more than anything else is the low wholesale price of $5.75.  Everything from festivals to a day shopping or going to the beach is an opportunity for this headwear to shine. 

Include these wholesale widebrim hats in your millinery selection for an economy model.  Believe me! They sell!  From there add a range of wide brim hats all the way up to 7 inch brims and you have an irresistible headwear selection that will make money this summer.  Hats are steadily growing in popularity and retailers know that we need everything that sells to boost the summer months.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Monday, May 23rd, 2011

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 The festival season is in full swing and vacation season starts soon.  Consumers attending festivals or going to the beach or on vacation need hats for sun protection.  The Jazz Fest in New Orleans just finished and the wholesale has that vendors bought gives us a good insight to what to expect this year in hat demand for the summer. 

For the most part hats were inexpensive and durable.  However, the hat festival goers will pay more money for is super widebrims—five, six, and seven inch brims.  These hats have the traditional swinger shape with brims getting wider every year.  This season sees two super widebrims with seven inch brims.  The first is a toyo hat with plenty of bounce for that high fashion look.  Basic colors of white, black, and natural are available and they are always the most popular colors. 

Wholesale price is $12.00 dollars, which means the hat retails around $25.00.   Normally this is beyond what a person attending a festival wants to pay for sun protection, but this hat is fashionable and women are seeing value in it for wear all summer.  Besides, the hat is showing up in plenty of fashion magazines, but not easy to find at the mall. 

The second seven inch brim hat is a fabric hat often referred to as a ribbon hat.  Wide ribbon-like bands of grosgrain are continuously sewn to create the widebrim that is crushable and packable.  Great for vacationers, this hat can stuff into a suitcase and pop out ready to wear at the beach or vacationing.  The sassy wide brim hat goes anywhere very conveniently without taking up a lot of space.  Expect big results for these summer women’s hats this season. 

Sales were even brisker in 5 inch wide brims at an inexpensive wholesale price.  These cute hats use toyo to provide some sun protection in a stylish look that also retails easily because of low price.  Fashion colors like turquoise and pink are available, but white, black, and natural again sell best. 

Straw hats dominated Jazz Fest with stingy brim fedoras surprising with strong sales.  Why a surprise?  Because these small brim hats offer practically no sun protection.  Celebrities and musicians wearing the hat made it so popular that everyone wants the look.  Straw fedoras are unisex so these hats have an unlimited audience.  Prices are also good starting at $4.50 wholesale, which lets them retail under $10. 

Durable lindu straw hats are big for the vendors at Jazz Fest every year as well as for French Quarter shops.  Best sellers are gamblers (especially with a 4 inch brim), safari hats, and pinch front outbacks.   Most have a chinstrap so your customers are not chasing their hats on a windy day and the lindu straw is exceptionally durable, making the headwear survive even sudden down pours. 

There are plenty more festivals in the line up this year for outdoor vendors.  Retailers new to the game may want to start on a small scale with a booth at a flea markets, school or church picnics, ball game, or street fair.   In addition, shop owners can get in the action because vacationers and anyone heading to the beach will want sun protection.  Hats are a rising star in fashion accessories so add some headwear to your shop and take advantage of an accessory that peaks in the summer when other items often slow down.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Filed under Casual Hats, Cowboy Hats, Hats
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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.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Friday, March 18th, 2011