A Montecristi Hat is a unique, handpicked treasure of flawless craftsmanship and classic style that is custom designed and fitted to your exact head shape and size and we have them at a fraction of the cost of big name department stores.
The straw in Panama hats comes from the leaves of the carludovica palmata or “paja toquilla”, a type of palm indigenous to Ecuador. The art of weaving the straw has flourished along the Ecuadorian Coast since the 1600’s. Over generations, master craftsmen perfected many of the delicate weaves we see in only the finest Panama hats. The exemplary Panama must be nearly flawless, of good color and consistent weave, exhibiting numerous enjiras, concentric or spiraling patterns radiating outward from the center of the crown. The body must be supple and delicate, yet strong. Unfortunately, the masters of this craft are now passing into old age and due to modern Ecuadorian economy, few are taking their place.
The quality on these are insanely good! I have only 18 of each weave, fino and ultra fino.
You can pack these, reshape these and even clean them with a baby wipe.
Fino only $32.99 (compare to $82)
Untra Fino only $49.99 (compare to competitors at $180!)
Call the store today or I will have them all online by the weekend.
17th Century – The Montecristi Hat
Spanish colonialist used native labor to produce European style hats, replacing the traditional Toquillas that covered ears and neck. Skilled weavers were located in the towns of Jipijapa and Montecristi (Manabi Province) and soon these villages turned into hat weaving centers and named their hats after their towns. Until today, the Montecristi Hat is recognized as the finest panama hats
18th Century – Scientific Name was defined
Spaniards started to use Toquilla Straw Hats and they became popular with the colonial nobility. Soon, the King of Spain ordered several bolts of toquilla straw for his wife. Botanist discovered that the straw that was used to weave the hats came from a palm species that only grows in the coast of Ecuador, between 100 and 400 meters over sea level, and they gave the palm the scientific name of Carludovica Palmeta in honor to the King Charles IV of Spain and his wife Ludovica
1835 – First Modern Hat Business
After Ecuador gained independence from Spain, an entrepreneur called Manuel Alfaro settled in Montecristi in 1835 and established a hat production business using his own straw plantations and hiring skilled weavers. His business went well and soon he started exporting to Panama, since it was becoming an important commercial center. Later on he opened shops in Panama, which attracted the attention of buyers from around the world, who soon associated this Ecuadorian product with the country of Panama.
1848 – The Gold Rush
In 1848 the Gold Rush began and people rushed to California by the easiest way in that time: crossing the Isthmus of Panama. While passing through, they often bought hats on their way and spread the word about Panama Hats in the USA. Eloy Alfaro, son of Manuel Alfaro and later the President of Ecuador, took over the family business and in 1849 Ecuador exported 220.000 hats to California
.1855 – World Fair in Paris
A Frenchman who lived in Panama exhibited the hats at the 1855 World Fair in Paris and since Ecuador was not mentioned as a participating country the hats were baptized as Panma Hats. The French fashion soon adopted the panama Hat and even Emperor Napoleon III wore a Montecristi Hat spreading the trend to other European countries. In Great Britain, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) also became a Panama Hat
.1863 – 1898 Export Expansion
Ecuador continues to export panama hats to the USA and Europe but expands its market to South America, the Caribbean and especially Cuba, where hats were highly needed for the workers of the sugar and tobacco plantations and huge amount of hats were bought every year.
1898 – Spanish American War
The US Government bought 50,000 hats to protect its soldiers from the intense sun of the Caribbean during the Spanish American War.
1906 – The Panama Canal Construction
During the Panama Canal Construction many hats were bought for all the US workers and engineers that arrived in Panama. The popularity rose all over the world when a photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt wearing a stylish Montecristi Hat during a visit to the canal, appeared in the world press.
As a curious fact, in 1925, Turkey’s modernization laws banned wearing the traditional fez and forced the use of Panama Hats.
1944 – Hollywood Golden Age
The Panama Hat exports reached its peak during 1944 when it became Ecuador`s number one export item, also due to a decline of the cocoa exports. One of the main reasons for the sales to boom was the effect of the Hollywood Golden Age, many stars wore panama hats on and off screen popularizing the use of the stylish panama. The panama hats appeared in movies such as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Key Largo, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Man Who Would Be King.