Archive for August, 2009

Hatmaker Showcase in San Francisco Represents the Change of Guard
August 17, 2009


The bay area has long been a place for expressive offbeat fashion, distinct from the temperament of LA and New York.  Despite lacking a pivotal presence in the industry, the bay area produces a strong indie designer scene emanating from the artistic personalities that thrive in our metropolis.  Within this milieu lies a smaller group of apparel makers, milliners and hatters.  With the cool fog and bright sun, the bay area climate allows optimal conditions for one of the most functional accessories, one that has been used across time and culture for protection from the elements and denotation of status, cultural affiliation and sexuality.  It is the ability for hats to make a statement of personality that makes them all the more attractive to the original thinkers found aplenty in this area rich in counter culture and the arts.

Within the past few years, urban centers have been witnessing the resurgence in popularity of fashionable hats, propelled by the multifaceted group of Hatmakers who profess their passion for hats in growing numbers.  One notable characteristic of this trend is the amount of young people coming into the trade while simultaneously more established hat companies either go out of business or sell to larger retailers.  We are witnessing a changing of the guard. 

This is evident locally in the growth of Goorin Brothers, who recently opened two new hat shops in downtown San Francisco and on Haight Street, adding to their location in North Beach.  Goorin Brothers has been operating since 1895, but it wasn’t until the thirty-something Ben Goorin took over operations that the production of affordable stylish hats became a defining feature of the company. 

Paul’s Hatworks on Geary, San Francisco’s 90-year-old custom men’s hat shop, one of the few on the West Coast and the only one in the Bay Area, was slated by owner and master hatter, Michael Harris to go out of business last year, along with all its vintage character, equipment and processes.  This loss was prevented by four women in their twenties involved in art and culture productions and possessing a passion for hats.  They had a collective vision, purchased the shop, apprenticed with Harris and will reopen Paul’s retailing tradition at the end of this month. The Grand Opening will be on August 29th 10am to 10pm, (6128 Geary Blvd @ 26th).

Apart from those with storefront presence, other local young hatmakers are making a splash among those who love creative expression through wearing hats and enjoy supporting the local market.  You can find their well-crafted original hats at indie shopping events and at retailers featuring local art and design.  The first local hatmaker showcase, Show Me A Hat Show, Sugar,  featuring fantastic creations by Jasmin Zorlu, Paul’s Hatworks, O’Lover Hats, Katie Burley and Cica Mica Millinery will turn heads and hearts this Friday August 21st 7pm to 10pm at the Box Factory (865 Florida St @ 21st).  Admission is $3.  Enjoy drinks and deejays while you come out to tip your hat to this fine-feathered group and take first pick of the newest trends in hats.


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