After spending a couple of days exploring the gorgeous city of Cuenca, Caridad took us to tour a Panama Hat Factory so we could learn more about the hat that we all know and love, I mean have you seen Instagram this summer? Everyone has jumped on board the trend and I don’t hate it.
We went to the Homero Ortega Hat Factory which was amazing! The factory is the result of five generations of hat makers, the factory is not only a shop and working factory but also a museum dedicated to educating the public about the history of the Panama Hat.
Did you know that Panama Hats were never made in Panama? They are not only traditional Ecuadorian hats but the act of weaving a Panama hat has been added to the UNESCO heritage list, as they are such integral parts to Ecuadorian culture!
The reason they are called Panama Hats is because the hats were shipped to Panama to be distributed to the rest of the world, earning a namesake after the country of distribution rather than the country of origin!
I loved seeing the process of how the hats are made, from the way they create the strands from the palms, all the way to the molding and drying of the hats, it was so interesting. We learned about the different qualities of the hats, you can tell the difference by feeling the texture, a finer weave is much smoother and when held to the light you can barely see through it. The best quality of Panama Hat is the superfine and only a few dozen weavers in the country remain able to weave these hats!
At the end of the tour we were able to explore the shops where my Dad and I picked up a couple of the traditional white Panama Hats with black bands (pictures to come I promise!) I just wish it had been the beginning of the summer so I could have gotten more wear out of it! We were also able to try on some of the more contemporary styles like this gorgeous black and white one… who wants to take me to the Kentucky Derby so I can have an excuse to wear it somewhere? Anyone?
When I travel I always love being able to learn more about things that are integral parts of the culture so it was a great experience being able to see the process and learn more about Panama Hats, I’ve been wearing them for a couple of years now but really didn’t know anything about them!
Where do you stand on the Panama Hat trend? Did you know they were actually from Ecuador?