Panama Hats – Quality & Pricing

We have added a number of new styles of panama hats this year and we thought that it made sense to give a quick overview regarding quality and pricing of panama hats.  You can use this at our site: www.VillageHats.co.uk or if you are buying from any other hat shop.  Price may change from seller to seller, so please understand that the prices I quote below are really just a rough reference.

A novice buyer should be careful when buying a fine quality panama hat; the retail market is neither clear nor consistent regarding grading and pricing. Because panama hats can vary considerably in price, we have included a quick rundown of why the price varies so much.

First, prices are usually determined by the fineness of the weave. The straw used to make panama hats can continually be made thinner, or finer, by dividing the strand of straw in half. Every time the straw width is halved (via fingernail), the amount of work required to weave the hat is multiplied four times.

Second, you may see some sellers mentioning Cuenca, Brisa or Montecristi panama hats. These are cities in Ecuador, but it does not guarantee that the hat originated from there or that it is of a certain quality. For instance, Montecristi is synonymous with the finest Panama hats in the world; but, be careful because qualities vary considerably even with hats from Montecristi. We only try to use these specific names if we are assured by our manufacturers that the hats came from those cities and are of a quality usually associated with that name.

Thrid, you may see grades used on our website and by other sellers.  These grades can vary considerably from hat to hat.  Two different companies could both be selling grade 8 panama hats, but they could be wildly different qualities, so it is really only a reference to roughly gauge the quality of the hat.  We do use the grades on some hats, when our manufacturer has supplied us with the grade number and we agree that the hats are that quality.  I will continue to use the grades, because it is an easy way to roughly describe the quality, but please understand that it is not an industry standard and can vary from seller to seller. 

Fourth, you may see companies selling rollable or foldable panama hats for a really low cost.  All I would say is that you can fold any hat, it may just not pop back to shape after it has been folded.  So if you see a rollable panama hat for £25, my guess is that it will fall apart with in a few months if you fold it.  With higher quality panama hats, you may find a great hat that can be folded, but constantly rolling and unrolling your Panama hat will shorten its life span, as the straw will eventually crack.  If you are a stickler for getting the absolute most time of service from products that you purchase, I recommend not rolling your hat.  With these major points covered, we should now be able to move on to pricing. 

(£30 – £50) Panama hats priced from 30 to 50 pounds will take a few days to weave and are typically considered to be between grades of 3 and 5 (again, these grades can vary from merchant to merchant so please understand that grades are only a rule of thumb).

(£60 – £100) Panama hats priced from 60 to 100 pounds can take a week to a month to weave and are typically considered to be between grades of 5 and 10.

(£100 and up) Panama hats priced from 100 pounds and up can take months to weave. Due to the fineness of the weave, only a select few weavers have the skill to make these. These panama hats are typically considered to between grades of 10 and up. 

I hope this helps somewhat. If you buy one, know you’re buying a hand made item with centuries of tradition. Click the following if you want to see our panama hats.

Jason

Village Hats

www.hatsandcaps.co.uk

www.villagehatshop.com

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