MONTECRISTI PANAMA HATS
Fino Fino specializes in hand-blocked Montecristi Panama hats and has a broader selection than most other sources. The Montecristi finois simply the finest straw hat in the world. Hand-woven in Ecuador by master weavers, they are wearable works of art that can be handed down to your grandchildren. Each hat is unique and represents months of work. The hat is woven on a wooden block supported by a tripod, over which the weaver works standing up with their chest bearing down on the block to weave the brim. They often work in the cool of the night so that perspiration does not soil the hat.
Visible when held to the light, a series of concentric rings in the crown, called vueltas, are created as new strands of straw are added. The larger the number of vueltas, the tighter the weave and the finer the hat. The number of master weavers is drastically dwindling as the younger weavers are uninterested in the back-breaking work required to create a fino or fino fino since they can create coarsely woven hats and souvenir items in a matter of hours.
THE 'TOQUILLA' PALM
Montecristi is a small town in Ecuador where the Carloduvica Palmata, or "Toquilla" palm, as it is called by the Ecuadorians, is cut when the fronds are immature. Then they are peeled, boiled, dried, and the fronds are separated into the size strand the weaver chooses. This palm has been found in other South and Central American countries, but the conditions which produce the finest fronds are found only in the coastal lowlands of Ecuador.
AND FINISHING THE HATS
WHY IS IT CALLED A PANAMA HAT?
The most widely accepted explanation of why this Ecuadorian hat is known as the "Panama" hat, is that Panama was the point of export, where workers on the Panama Canal found them to be durable headwear and comfortable under the tropical sun. When President Teddy Roosevelt visited during the construction of the canal, he returned to the United States wearing one of these hats; the press dubbed it the "Panama Hat," and it has been known as that ever since.
PANAMA HAT STYLES
hats are available in a variety of styles, and, as with any "classic,"
are wearable with anything in your wardrobe--casual to dressy. Most styles
are unisex, however, the round crown styles were specifically designed
for women. The basic styles include:
CARE OF YOUR PANAMA HAT
fine Panama hat can last generations with proper care. It is a
very durable hat, but not indestructible. Handle your hat
with BOTH hands by the brim--especially the pinch-front styles.
Handling your hat by the "pinch" will set in sharp creases that will
eventually lead to a break. A break in the crown can generally be
patched from underneath but it cannot be rewoven. So avoid sharp
creases and keep it away from your puppy. In spite of the lore
you may have heard about rolling your hat for traveling,
once it has been blocked and finished you will have to wear it or carry
a hat box when you travel. Actually the only style that ever
rolled well is the Optimo style but it, too, will break along the fold
if it is rolled often.