History of Hats

History of Hats

08 janvier, 2023

Hats were one of the first apparel items for humans. Since then, they’ve been an important part of how we dress and socialize. Read the stories behind your favorite hat styles.


Hats are significant. For one, they are one of the first items to be worn by humans, according to historians.

They protect our heads, add the final touch to a stunning outfit, and make statements about our sense of style and culture.

They may communicate a message or be a visual representation of our position in society. Or, they could be nothing more than just a fun, cute accessory or a collector’s item.

Regardless of why, where, or what hat you wear, hats matter.

A big reason for that is because of the history behind hats.

Women's headwearMen's headwear

Hats Through History

A Quick Hat History Lesson

Headwear has been with us for the breadth of human history.

  • Graffiti in a cave in France seems to suggest that in ancient times, headgear was used as a defense tool from natural dangers, such as falling stones.
  • The funeral mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, or King Tut, shows how the Ancient Egyptians used the royal bonnet to indicate the wearer’s divine nature through distinctive insignia.
  • In the Middle Ages, hats and hat materials become a way to differentiate between social classes; for example, the rich wore stylish hats that were refined and made of velvet, which the working class could not afford.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte made the bicorne famous when he wore the distinctive hat sideways to help his soldiers see him more easily on the battlefield.
  • The most famous 19th century hats include the top hat, made iconic by President Abraham Lincoln. Though traditionally worn by men only, actress Marlene Dietrich made the top hat part of her regular cabaret outfit.
  • In the century following, the fedora came onto the public scene thanks to Humphrey Bogart in the 1942 film Casablanca.
  • The early 1900s also brought us the bowler hat, created by William Bowler and made famous by actor Charlie Chaplin.
  • Last but certainly not least came the baseball cap, with its soft cap and hard, protective visor. It became one of the favorite accessories of the young generation after World War II and was further popularized by hip hop fashion.

Hats in Art

Different types of hats have made their way into art over the years. Here are just a few examples of hat history in art:

  • Peter Paul Rubens’ Portrait of Susanna Lunden (Le Chapeau de Paille) painted in the early 1620s shows a woman wearing a shaped wide-brim beaver-felt hat decorated with feathers.
  • Rene Magritte’s Le Mois Des Vendanges (The Time of Harvest) from 1959 depicts men wearing the bowler or derby hat, highlighting the hat’s iconic status in relation to the Modern Age.
  • Edgar Degas’ Portraits at the Stock Exchange from 1879 features men in top hats and frock coats as the mode in men’s fashion into the Romantic Era.
  • Walker Evans’ Subway Passengers, New York City, a photograph taken between 1938-41, shows a couple: the woman wears a fashionable beret, while the man sports a cocked fedora.

Let’s take a closer look at the stories behind our favorite hat styles.

A Glimpse at the Past: Specific Hats

Fedora

The term “fedora” came from the title of a play from 1882. Like some of the other hats on our list, this hat was first a fashion item for women. Soon enough, the fedora was worn by both men and women after Edward, Prince of Wales sported one in public in 1924. Singer Frank Sinatra was also instrumental in cementing the fedora into pop culture.

Women's Brixton Fedoras

Trilby

George du Maurier's novel Trilby became a stage play in 1895, and featured a trilby hat. That’s when this hat style became a mainstay in hat culture, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the hat was popularized. The well-known movie character James Bond brought great fame and attention to this humble hat, making it an elegant and distinctive headwear choice for men and women alike.

Women's Brixton Berets

Beret

The beret goes as far back as Ancient Greece, where it was considered and used as military headgear. The modern origins of this iconic hat, however, can be traced back to the people living near the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. The Scots soon picked up the hat design as an iconic hat for men, and the rest is history.

Pork Pie Hat

Pork Pie

The pork pie hat was worn among both men and women in the mid-19th century. This hat style enjoyed moderate fame up until the 1920s, when comedian and actor Buster Keaton took his homemade pork pie onto the screen and made it into one of the iconic hats of the 1930s and 1940s. More recently, the pork pie hat resurfaced in the AMC television series Breaking Bad.

Newsboy Brood Snap Cap

Newsboy Cap

As the name suggests, this hat style earned its name by being the hat worn most often by newsboys in the early 20th century. The implied “working class style” is misleading, however. The newsboy cap was commonly worn by teens and young men of all social classes, seen on the heads of many golfers, and even well-to-do sportsmen.

For us here at Brixton, the newsboy cap holds a special place above all other hat styles. Here’s why.

History of Brixton

Our story began with a hat: The Hooligan, a vintage-inspired newsboy cap.

Brixton was born outside of a garage in Oceanside, California, with a group of friends who bonded over their shared passion for hats. Inspired by the diversity of cultures around them, the founders sought to unite people from various lifestyles through classic, elegant apparel and headwear.

We draw our inspiration from art, music, exploration, and adventure. Our audience is the people we’re inspired by—musicians, artists, craftspeople, travelers.

Each of Brixton’s creations—whether it be a casual straw pork pie for summer or a warm, soft beanie winter hat—are inspired by the past and build for the present.

Taking classic silhouettes that endure the test of time, we at Brixton reinterpret classics to present our customers with modern yet elegant hats and outfits. We’ve collaborated with iconic brands from other industries, such as Fender, to present you with timeless yet stylish twists on iconic hat styles.

Brixton Fender Headwear

In addition to our commitment to classic style and long-lasting durability, we also thoughtfully craft our products as sustainably as possible.

Our felt headwear are created with Australian wool. Our snapback hats are made with upcycled discarded fishing nets. Every order we ship out is packaged in biodegradable bags and fully recycled boxes.

Brixton wearables: Inspired by the past, made for the present

For hat lovers who care about timeless staple headpieces as part of their personalized wardrobe, Brixton’s hats are "done proper" with sustainable materials and cultural elegance that can provide them with their own hat from history.

08 janvier, 2023
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