Where does the real Panama hat come from?
Many people may not know the Panama hat actually originates in Ecuador, not Panama, as the name suggests. Authentic Panama hats have a rich history and fascinating story – as unique as the artisans who create these hand-woven stylish hats, which combines a natural resource of Ecuador with a long tradition of this South American culture.
Since the 1600s when the Spaniards came to South America, they found native people wearing head coverings made of Palmata Straw or the Carludovica Palm. Two centuries later, they improved and evolved to become the “Panama hats”, as they are known today.
Around the 1800s these hand made hats started exporting making them available to travelers and merchants who purchased them at the Panamanian ports, so the name actually reflects their point of international sale not their place of domestic origin.
It wasn’t until the end of the 18th Century that the Panama hat marked its place in history when it was showcased at the universal show in Paris.
The Panama hat received world-wide attention soon became the defining fashion accessory for the elite.
The legendary genuine Panama hat is made of Toquilla Palm and the very finest Panama hats are hand woven by artisans in the small town of Montecristi, in Ecuador. Hats can take from 1-6 months to complete by a true master weaver. Because the hats are hand woven,
none are exactly the same, which adds to the uniqueness of the hand made product.
From famous world leaders such as, Winston Churchill, Nikita Kroucheve, to European royalty and U.S. Presidents, such as Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt, whose picture appeared in the New York Times wearing a Panama hat on a visit to the construction site of the Panama Canal in 1906, these hats are as much as a legend as the extraordinary men who donned them and helped make them popular. The Panama hat remains in fashion even today, continually worn by numerous world figures, movie actors, celebrities, intellectuals, writers, painters, socialites and others all over the world.