How Many Hats Do You Own?

Biltmore Fur Felt Stingy Brim Hat - The Peluche Pork Pie at HartfordYork.comAlthough there are certain men among us who admit to not owning even one hat (!), those fashionable gents who do wear flat caps, fedoras and pork pies tend to own at least a few hats, if not several. I suppose I have about ten favorite hats and caps — per season — that I wear, plus some that have seen better days (but I still use in a pinch).

Because I sell hats for a living, which entails meeting and working with hat designers, going on photo shoots and so on, I’m obviously in the enviable position of having access to all styles of hats in numbers that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

On the other hand, it can be very trying for a hat lover such as myself to constantly beMakins Fur Felt  Hat - The Salome Pork Pie at HartfordYork.com presented with the latest newsboy or fedora from master hatters like Borsalino and Wigens, and be introduced to new designers like Eugenia Kim and Victor Osborne. I continually see updated looks or some unique design that puts a new hat in my ever-growing list of favorites.

For instance, when Biltmore came out with The Peluche, a remarkably beautiful pork pie hat with its long, uncombed nap, it made the unequivocal declaration of my new favorite fur felt pork pie (Makins’ Salome — the brushed dress hat with rope trim) feel dishonest. There was in fact an absolute tie between the two impeccably designed and flawlessly made hats that left no room for preference.

Loving all well-made, stylish hats equally, the only solution to hat-hoarding must be either an intervention (ha!) or a larger cupboard/temperature-controlled display case. I’ll leave you to decide which path you think I’ll take.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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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  

Use Hats For Endless Wardrobe Variety

Men's Rod Keenan Fur Felt Fedora - The Sedgewick Dress Hat at HartfordYork.comThe opening paragraph of Caitlin Donnelly’s article in LJ World (Hats add endless variations to wardrobe), reads in part that

hats are often overlooked as an accessory. The endless shapes, colors and fabrics are a fun way to add variety to your wardrobe, especially during fall and winter months when your wardrobe is always covered, bundled underneath a warm coat.

This is quite true. Picking out gloves and scarfs, after agonizing over the perfect winter coat and pair of boots, is usually as far as most people go. But why stop there? You need a hat in most northern climes, so why not make it a complimentary and integral part of the whole?

Then she delves into those classic hats: the trilby; the fedora; and the homburg, providing a nice distinction between the styles (and uses).

A trilby hat is frequently made from tweed or wool; its shape often holds an indent at the crown and a distinctly narrow brim, upturning in the back. A fedora is a version of the trilby, distinguished by its wider brim. Unlike a fedora or trilby, the homburg hat is not mold-able. The indented crown and upturned brim of a homburg is fixed.

These qualities are important to keep in mind — if you travel frequently, the compressible shape of a trilby or fedora might be easier to fit in a crowded suitcase.

If you’re looking for a good travel hat, wool felt is often better than fur felt (in structured hats, not necessarily in shapes like bucket hats and cloches), because it tends to take the abuse and revert to its shape better after its been rolled up for packing.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on November 24, 2009 at 8:27 am  Leave a Comment  

No Dirty ‘Black Friday’ Secrets at HartfordYork. Honest!

Men's Stetson Fur Felt Hat - The Cavalry Hat at HartfordYork.comCNN says to watch out for the Dirty Secrets of Black Friday ‘Doorbusters’, saying that

of the hordes of pre-dawn shoppers who line up for hours outside stores on the day after Thanksgiving, most will not bag the best bargains that appear in merchants’ circulars.

That’s just wrong.

Shoopers need to be on the look-out for phrases like While supplies last, Minimum 2 per store, No rainchecks, and/or All items are available in limited quantities. If you see any of these limitations, be prepared to walk away from the store empty-handed.

Big-name stores are guilty of this practice. Sears, for example, is limiting its Black Friday special on an LCD HETV to “only while quantities last; minimum 3 per store; no rainchecks”. They also have a washer/dryer deal but they’ve limited that to 4 per store and no rainchecks.

This practice of short supply is patently unfair to consumers and can actually be physically dangerous as with last year’s WalMart stampede that saw a store employee killed.

Even if you do happen to luck into a store that still has inventory, you should know of another unfair practice. Some of the items on sale are not the standard models, but in fact cheaper derivatives. Consumers are not made aware of this important point, and often wind up getting less of a true bargain.

Trust is a crucial factor in establishing and maintaining any successful business, but especially one that’s solely online like mine. One of the main reasons I started this blog back in 2005 was to have a sort of “over-the-counter” connection between shop owner (yours truly) and customer.

I don’t impose false limits or create short supply. If you order a Borsalino fedora or a Stetson cowboy hat, that’s exactly what you get. Maybe honesty and good service aren’t slick and shiny slogans, but (in my old-fashioned opinion, anyway) there’s just no other way to run a business and succeed as a human being.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
Shop Owner and
CEO Hartford York

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Legendary Hat Maker Goorin Brothers open 2 new stores

Men's Goorin Fur Felt Fedora - The ClarkI’ve always been partial to hats made by Cassel Goorin, and their press release (Hats Are Back for 120-Year-Old Hat Company) announces the opening of two new Goorin stores in San Francisco.

With hat sales booming, the two new locations opened this month give the San Francisco based company three hat stores in one city. Goorin Brothers has been headquartered in San Francisco since 1949 selling wholesale and opened its first retail store in North Beach in 2007.

“Despite these tough economic times,” says fourth-generation hatter, Ben Goorin, “I am excited to open the hat shops and bring back a tradition that started with my great-grandfather. Demand for fedoras, flat cap ivys and other classic-inspired hats continues to be strong. It is rewarding to see San Francisco’s positive response to the new hat shops.”

Congratulations to a fabulous company and long may you prosper!

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 12:15 am  Leave a Comment  

The Top Hat For The Top Man

Men's Stetson Pure Beaver Fedora - The Presidential PinnacleIn an article called The Inaugural Top Hat Tradition, Kate Michael of The Examiner wonders aloud if Barack Obama will bring back the top hat tradition. The last President to wear a top hat during an inauguration ceremony was John F. Kennedy, back in 1961, and with the nearly inevitable Camelot comparisons between JFK and Obama, a top hat worn by this President-elect would certainly seem full circle.

Speaking of Presidential hats, we’ve got the limited edition Presidential Pinnacle fedora from Stetson on hand. This is the hat that our cohort Josh from HatForObama.Com is trying to give to the President-elect. For every one of these hats sold over the next several weeks and months, $25 will be donated to the Hats Off for Cancer Charity with a goal of selling 2009 numbered, certificated hats for a total of $50,000.

Hopefully Hat No. 1 will go to the First Man himself.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Posh Hats – Wear Them Like The Beckhams

Fur Felt Hats at HartfordYork.com - Mr. Green Fur Felt Fedora - The Donald Dress HatVictoria and David Beckham have apparently discovered the potential of felt hats, arriving at Heathrow for the Christmas holidays in a trimmed trilby (her) and a casual, Indy-type fedora (him).

The Softpedia article called “Hats – Even the Beckhams Are Doing It:
Posh and David don matching hats, may set new trend
” wonders what the fashionable duo might do for hats, saying that “Posh and Becks donning them [may] be the push that [hats need] to go mainstream once more.”

On a related note: why is soccer called football in Europe?

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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Drying Wet Felt Hats

Wool and Fur Felt Winter Hats for Men at HartfordYork.com - Men's Goorin Bowler Fedora - The ClockworkIf you’ve been caught in a wet snow storm and your fur or wool felt hat got really soaked, remember the cardinal rules of hat care:

1. keep the hat on a flat surface, upside down.

2. dry naturally at room temperature, otherwise you risk shrinkage.

I just read something about how the process of felting wool may have been discovered–it was through the use of lambs wool stuffed into the leather shoes of nomads. When worn in cold weather, the necessary processes to felt wool naturally occurred: compression, heat and humidity. Makes sense to me, but I think I might just test the theory with a pair of homemade winter moccasins of my own.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
The Multi-Talented
CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Hats in Paris

Borsalino Fall and Winter Hats - Men's Fur Felt Dress Fedora at HartfordYork.comAfter visting one of the most extravagantly beautiful cities in the world, writer Barry Ronge of The Times wrote about how Parisians exemplify the sexiness of style in his article, Paris, C’est Chic.

He talks about the simple boot, for example, saying:

Boots in France are not things that protect your feet. They are declarations of wealth, status and power. Unless you are properly shod, you will never get your foot in the door of the haute société.

And then he moves on to hats:

The same goes for hats. French men wear dashing Borsalino hats or chic little Trilbies in wonderfully woven fabrics. The women go for elegantly crumpled little velvet concoctions, usually in black, that hug the head and are adorned with beautifully created flowers, subtle embroidered medallions or plaited ribbon trims that define the shape of the head without shrieking: “Look at the fabulous hat I am wearing.”

From that last bit, I think Mr. Ronge is okay if a man shrieks about his fabulous hat, but he’s not so much a fan of women doing so. That point may call for some discussion, but not before I chew on his next sentence:

They have mastered the art of dressing way, way up, but in a style so discreet and ingeniously engineered that it looks totally effortless.

This last statement makes me wonder if perhaps my heritage doesn’t contain a little more francophone than the folks let on. . .cuz you just know how effortlessly chic I am in my Borsalino hat.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer
CEO Hartford York

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A Most Interesting Hat

Men's Borsalino Fur Felt Fedora - The CasualHumorist Josh Billings once said: Every man has his follies – and often they are the most interesting thing he has got. There’s a kernel there, wouldn’t you say?

Not, I hasten to add, that I describe my interest in hats a folly, although others have and may still. This lifelong appreciation for and familiarity with headgear has brought me wealth, fame and glory. Okay, that’s not true, but I do have a solid business, I hang out with some pretty cool people in the industry, and I’ve been know to give interviews. (Thanks, mom).

So, what’s this post really about? Stick with what you love, follow your passions. What’s folly to one man is fortune to another.

Thanks for reading,
Steve Singer, Folly Man
and CEO Hartford York

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Published in: on February 1, 2008 at 1:44 am  Leave a Comment