Language Barriers: Trilby vs. Fedora

As an American living in the UK, I have noticed quite a difference in the English language used here compared to our version in the US.  You catch the tube not the subway.  You put on trousers not pants.  You grab a pint with mates not a beer with buddies.  And of course you watch the football instead of soccer. 

Indiana Jones Trilby or Fedora?
Indiana Jones Trilby or Fedora?

 As hatters we have run into a few problems which arise from this difference in language.  Our company first noticed that UK based websites were calling the Indiana Jones hat a trilby instead of a fedora. This was contradictory to everything we had known as American hatters.  In the states a trilby hat is a short brimmed, cut and sewn hat that is more like what Sean Connery wears in the 3rd Indiana Jones movie than what Harrison Ford wears.  So of course we were perplexed as to what to name this classic hat on our UK site HatsandCaps.co.uk

Many evenings were spent looking at what other sites were calling trilby hats and what they were calling fedora hats.  Unfortunately, we noticed that it seemed to be at the companies’ discretion.  There is no guideline, or industry standard when it comes to this.  We would meet with different hat manufacturers and each had their own opinion on the matter. 

We have had this same naming issue with many hats.  In the states flat caps are ivy caps.  Baker boy hats are newsboy caps.  Fancy dress hats are novelty hats.  All we were hoping to do was create a site which was easy to use and navigate, and instead we couldn’t even decide what to name our categories and products.

As of now, we still have no clear indication that there is an objective definition as to what a trilby should be and what a fedora should be.  So, we made up our own definitions.  That’s right; we put our foot down.  Now at HatsandCaps.co.uk we are saying, “trilbys are 2 inches or less, fedoras are over 2 inches bottom line.”

Some may ask “Why did you choose this random length of 2 inches?”  As an internet company we have to try and market our hats to the public the best that we can.  But as hatters we also want to hold on to some traditional industry lingo.  We couldn’t bring ourselves to name a big brimmed hat (the Indiana Jones hat) a trilby, it seemed contrary to what we had learned from many years in the business. 

That is it.  We leave it at that.  If you have hard proof that can show us a trilby is x and a fedora is y, then we will gladly change our product names.  Until then, we are staying with our own made up terms and hope that the world follows.  Don’t get us started on whether or not it is a bowler or a derby. 

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7 thoughts on “Language Barriers: Trilby vs. Fedora

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  3. Thank you! Finally, someone says it! I am sick and tired and absolutely frustrated of looking for a brown fedora, a real one, and getting myself directed to freaking trillby hats! Why don’t they sell them in stores anymore? Why can I only find them online? Fedoras, imho, are so much cooler then trillby hats will ever be.

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