Trends in Men’s Hats for Spring/Summer 2012

Santana Ivy Cap - The Superstitious at HartfordYork.comIn response to a media query as to men’s fashion trends this season, I said that the most noticeable I’ve seen so far are that men are having more fun with their ever-increasing selection of choices and are also taking far more “risks” than they have in the past.

A few examples:

The Fantasy Band by Borsalino. It may seem a small thing, but the dark edging on the light ribbon trim on this Panama fedora really changes its overall appearance, and is a complete departure from the perceived “norm” of a bleached white straw with black ribbon.

The Superstitious by Carlos Santana (pictured above) is a satin-lined ivy cap that is brilliant in color, and it’s proving already to be extremely popular. This is a real departure from the conservative solids we’re used to seeing in men’s caps. In fact, there is a general movement towards more plaids and contrast panels in caps, even within the tans and grays. This trend not only gives today’s hat wearers far more choice, it also encourages younger guys to take the hat plunge.

The Patchwork Ravi is a cotton hat by Robert Graham. Usually everyone immediately goes to “bucket hat” when picturing a cotton hat, but this stingy brim plaid trilby is both boldly stylish and eminently wearable. Breaking preconceived notions seems to be the rule of thumb that is governing fashion trends in menswear, be it apparel or hats.

What’s your opinion?

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on March 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Perfect Hat To Be Looked At In

Frank Sinatra hatIf you’re thinking choosing a new fedora to hang on your hat rack, don’t get put off by price. There are good-looking hats at all prices points and, yes, every seriously stylish man who wears dress hats should indeed someday invest in a Borsalino fur felt like The Balducci or perhaps a special order Makins fedora in leather braid.

You can’t tell me, though, that you won’t be volubly admired in The Way (pictured above), a Sinatra wool felt fedora — which sells for a budget-friendly $75. The stingy brim is striking in two tones and features finishing details like a fancy ribbon (with bow) as trim and a rolled edge. It’s also satin lined and has a leather sweatband. The overall look is a nice, crisp silhouette and it’s just one of several in the Frank Sinatra line of men’s hats.

These really are perfect hats to be looked at in, and at prices that not only allow you to make your car payments — but (more importantly) indulge your hat passion, guilt free.

Cock your hat – angles are attitudes.
Frank Sinatra

Thanks for indulging,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on January 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Designer Ball Caps Bring Culture to the Masses

1333 Minna Cotton Ballcap - The Marduk Cap at HartfordYork.comRichard Boler wrote an opinion piece called Kindly remove your cap, son: How did the ball cap become the chapeau of choice for, like, everyone? in which he bemoans the fact that almost everyone he sees–men and boys alike–wear ball caps instead of proper hats like fedoras (or presumably more fashionable caps like newsboys). He’s offended because baseball caps are for boys and ball players — and not for men.

He also argues that grown men are still wearing baseball caps because we endlessly recycle culture instead of advancing it.

I agree that there are times when ball caps don’t match the occasion, but I don’t think that all ball caps can fall under the ilk of “unadvanced”. The ball cap pictured here, for instance, is one designed by a group of artists in San Francisco called 1333 Minna. The cap is called The Marduk, which is the name of an ancient Babylonian Lord of Lords and leader of all gods. Designed by the artist Belsky, Marduk is depicted as a flying snake dragon. A tree of life is embroidered on the rear panels with a signature crown on the under brim. The artistic emphasis is Marduk’s power and absorption of magic.

Mr. Boler, I think your “heartfelt wish for our country is that we find ways to break free from this stagnation” is being answered by designers and artists across the nation who are truly creative, and who are finding novel ways of advancing culture. Even your “humble suggestion for our country is that we start with our hats” is heeded here. You just need to know where to look.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on July 2, 2010 at 3:48 am  Comments (1)  

Men’s Hats by Swanepoel and Stetson

Men's Swanepoel/Stetson Fedora - The Carousel Fur Felt Dress Hat at HartfordYork.com

The headwear go-to guy in America is Albertus Swanepoel, and now the South African-born milliner’s on board with the inconic American hat manufacturer — Stetson.

Before arriving in New York City two decades ago, Albertus Swanepoel was already winning awards for his fashion designs in Pretoria. Over the years, he’s worked with top designers including Proenza Schouler, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Carolina Herrera, Jason Wu and Diane von Furstenberg, developed his own label, and won countless awards and feature spreads in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Stetson is the latest (and greatest) joint venture for Swanepoel, who also works with Barney’s in NYC, The Gap, Coach and Kate Spade.

Interested in fashion since childhood, Swanepoel has definite opinions about hats, which he calls “the orphan accessory”, too often overlooked (even on the runways) until the last minute. Because hats are the most personal of the accessories, says Swanepoel, they’re also the most interesting and can be worn either as a way to be noticed or a way to hide.

The Stetson collection of hats he’s working on (five of which are available at HartfordYork.com) is being created for full-on attention. While he’s insisting that the very recognizable and classic silhouette of the Stetson western hat remain sacrosanct, you’ll see modern touches (with a bit of whimsy) that add the inimitable designed-by-Swanepoel look.

The Carousel is just such a hat, offered in very limited edition by HartfordYork.com. As seen in the May 2010 edition of Vogue, The Carousel is a fully-lined Stetson fedora made stunning by the Swanepoel-designed hand embroidery adorning the brim and hat band trim.

Order The Carousel today for September 2010 delivery. When a designer the caliber of Albertus Swanepoel works with a hat company which himself acknowledges as “the Rolls-Royce of hats”, you know the Stetson Carousel is THE must-have hat of the Fall 2010 season.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on May 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Men’s Hats, Like Jackets, are Workhorse & Vanity Pieces

Men's Wigens Leather Bucket Hat - The Norberg at HartfordYork.com

A NY Times review on last week’s men’s fashion show in Paris says that “the most useful garment in the show was the jacket . . . at once a workhorse and a piece of vanity.”

This view of how an article of clothing can serve multiple purposes is very much how I see men’s hats. The workhorse aspect comes into effect when you wear a warm winter hat to stave off windchill or when you don a leather bucket hat to keep your head dry in a downpour. The vanity characteristic is served nearly unconsciously — none of us would buy a piece of apparel that we didn’t believe looked good on us or enhanced the way we appear to others.

Much like men’s hats, jackets can dress an outfit up or down. This gives existing pieces in any wardrobe extra life by offering a variety of looks from which to draw. Try it yourself: your winter overcoat takes on a very different overall character when topped by a leather ivy cap instead of a Russian-style Ambassador.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Young Men in Suits and Hats

Men's Wigens Shearling Ivy Cap With Earflaps - The Sven at HartfordYork.com

In a New York Times Fashion & Style article called Dressing for Success, Again, the chief analyst at NPD Group (a retail sales tracking company) says:

The older generation, say 45-plus, look upon success as being able to dress down. They think being able to wear jeans is the epitome of achievement. But the younger generation is looking at getting dressed up and making their mark. It’s a real generation gap here.

Today, a reversal in the expected norm of the well-dressed older gent is seen everywhere, with 25-year-olds in natty sport coats, skinny ties and dapper fedoras. In fact, young men are embracing the Mad Men elements of style.

Writer David Colman cites as evidence of this trend the “numerous men’s wear blogs. . . dedicated to . . . old-school minutiae of dressing well. Or take a look at the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones, who favors double-breasted suits and bow ties and talks about ‘the resurgence of the gentleman.'”

Samuel Rascoff, an NYU professor of law theorizes about his well-dressed students and their peers, saying that

this return to style, or to a consciousness of how you look, is an attempt by young men to recover a set of values that were at one point very much present in American society and then lost. It strikes me as being of a piece with the way young people buy their coffee or their food: paying attention to authenticity or quality, and to whether something is organic or local. They stand for a rejection of the idea that all consumer goods are ephemeral and inevitably made in China and bought at Wal-Mart.

Let’s take the good professor’s lesson to heart, men: “You might be comfortable naked, but that don’t mean it looks good.”

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
Fully Dressed CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on December 20, 2009 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Light Headed About Hats

In a Cornell Daily Sun article called Getting Light Headed: Hats and Accessories, writer Alex Harlig says that “what’s great about head wear is that it can change the way your outfit presents itself.”

Looks that are typical or expected, she continues, can increase the strength of the overall outfit, while a contrast look can bring “new life to all of the elements involved.” In other words, a fur felt fedora can finish off an elegant suit with finesse or it can add a touch of class and style to a grungier, edgier outfit of torn jeans and distressed leather jacket.

She finishes off to say that if a hat doesn’t bring about the desired effect for you one day, it might just well happen the next. In other words, don’t give up: maybe it was the wrong outfit or attitude. Hats can be very tricky, you know.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Heads In Fedoras

Mr. Green Fedora - The KentFedoras are the hat of choice this summer, if celebrity trends are anything to go by. Hugh Jackman and his son were spotted wearing the classic style as were Jeremy Piven, Robert Downey Jr., Benji Madden among others.

Even in summer, these young men still tend to wear darker colors (only Jack Osborne had a natural straw), but the majority tend to make a further style statement with funky hat bands.

Hollywood heads in fedoras aren’t only men either: Miley Cyrus, Jessica Alba, and Kylie Minogue were also shown in the must-have headwear recently.

What was nice about seeing all these stars in hats was how natural they looked. Sun protection, style and attention-getting is a pretty potent package: what’s not to like?

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
Head Fedora and CEO Hartford York

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Hats – the ‘Look At Me’ Accessory

Borsalino Montecristi Panama Fedora - The Vented Montecristi Dress HatIn an article called Pork pies, panamas & trilbies, milliner John Kasriel says the hats are bouncing off the shelves and he puts it “all down to sex, celebrities and, to a lesser degree, cancer.”

The music industry and actors like Brad Pitt, Heath Ledger and Justin Timberlake started it,” he says. “It’s sun protection for some older guys too, but mostly it’s, ‘I want to attract the women. I want to look fantastic. I’ve got confidence. I want to wear a hat’.

Short-brimmed pork pies are especially popular and are selling in pinstripes and double striped fabrics as well as pale coffee colors in linens and cottons and various shades of grey straw, polypropylene or twisted paper weaves.

“Guys are fussy,” says Kasriel. “They don’t just want a hat. They want it this way, up at the front, or that way, down at the back, or a small brim or wider brim, or dents on the side of the crown or not and this color or this band. They know what they want and it’s got to be spot on, perfect. They’ve got something in their mind and they want to look like that exactly.”

He reckons that “something” is usually a mental picture of a hat-wearing celebrity, like Pitt, Ledger, Timberlake, Pete Doherty, Snoop Dog, Kid Rock, Federline, and Hugh Jackman.

And it’s everyone who’s putting the hats on: the 18 year-olds and the 55-year-olds; the heavy metal emos and goths wear their black top hats and bowlers, while baby boomers swear by fedoras and larger brims, and Gen X-ers put their money into trilbies and panamas.

One hatter says the trend of wearing men’s hats is “ready to go ballistic across all levels. We’re going to get to that stage – I think like 50 years ago – when you couldn’t go to the races without a hat.”

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Hats Never Make Your Bum Look Big – Stephen Jones, milliner

Stephen Jones, hat-maker extraordinaire, gives an interview which you can watch and/or read in full at Times Online.

He’s an early riser, using the quiet time to sketch new hat designs, before facing the day in London’s Covent Garden, where the studio and shop are. Inspiration comes from everything, says Jones, including a “15th-century farm-worker’s knitted hood and a 1960s hat with tendrils by Simone Mirman, who was one of the Queen’s milliners.” He loves that hats tell a story and thinks that

hats are a great leveller. Everyone likes trying them on — rich, poor, young, old, thin, fat… And you can transform from one thing into another. Put on a gold baseball cap and you’re 50 Cent; wear a pea-green hat for your daughter’s wedding and you can be the lady of the manor.

The BEST thing about hats, of course, confirms Stephen Jones is that

you never have that awful “does-my-bum-look-big-in-this?” moment.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on March 1, 2009 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment