Long before Don Draper and Justin Timberlake brought sexy back to the fedora, hats were once as common on a man’s head as socks on his feet. Simply put, a man was not properly dressed without one.
But along the way, hats faded into the back of men’s closets, and the baseball cap eventually took over the pate.
Fast forward a few decades: Tradition has reared its well-coiffed head again. Wide-brimmed, high-crowned, feather-adorned hats are resurgent at a time when celebrities and nostalgia-inspired TV shows such as “Boardwalk Empire” and “Mad Men” are telling men it’s acceptable to care about their clothing — including the accessory on their head.
“Young people are driving the trend right now,” said Anthony Andler, owner of Heimie’s Haberdashery in St Paul, Minn. “They are seeing the benefits to dressing better. The job market and the girl market are both tough, so they want an edge that will help them compete.”
Celebrities such as Timberlake, Johnny Depp, Bruno Mars and Brad Pitt are routinely spotted wearing old-school men’s hats. The styles include the fedora, flat caps, gatsbys, even the top hat. Andler said customers often come into his shop referencing hats they’ve seen on the heads of their favorite actors or musicians.
While pop culture is giving traditional hats their moment, Andler said a classic hat also serves a practical purpose. Coupled with an overcoat, a nice pair of shoes and gloves, a hat completes the package of a well-dressed man.
In 1940, there were 180 independent major manufacturers of hats in the United States, according to the New York Times. In 2011, there were only 10.
Since 2004, Heimie’s has been one of the few Twin Cities stores where men could find a dedicated inventory of old-school hats. The local hat market has been heating up with the September opening of Goorin Bros. in Uptown.
That shop is the 26th location for a San Francisco-based company, a sign that the hat trend might be here to stay (again). Goorin-branded hats also are sold at Nordstrom and other stores.
Ashley Foucault, Goorin’s Minneapolis store manager, said people often come in asking for Al Pacino’s famous “Godfather” Homburg hat, but other customers have no idea what they want.