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
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
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.
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.
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.
FINISHING THE HATS
hat "bodies" are graded according to fineness of the weave, color of
the straw, uniformity of the weave from crown to brim, and the quality
of the backwoven edge (fine Panamas are never turned over and
stitched). The hand-blocking and finishing of our hats is done in this
country by a very few who are skilled in this art. A truly fine Panama
is never machine blocked or glued and varnished to a helmet-like
finish. Hand-blocked Montecristis begin at $450 and range into the
thousands of dollars.
IT CALLED A PANAMA HAT?
most widely accepted explanation of why this Ecuadorian hat is
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.
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
fine Panama hat can last generations with proper care. It is
very durable hat, but not indestructible. Handle
with BOTH hands by the brim--especially the pinch-front
Handling your hat by the "pinch" will set in sharp creases that will
eventually lead to a break. A break in the crown can
patched from underneath but it cannot be rewoven. So avoid
creases and keep it away from your puppy. In spite of the
you may have heard about rolling your hat for
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.
When you remove your hat, lay it on a
flat surface, upside down on the crown for a hat with a shaped brim or
right side up flat on the brim for a styles like the Planter.
you hang it on a peg or hat rack be sure it rests on the leather
sweatband and not on the straw. Brush it with a soft brush to
keep the dust off. If you let it lay around gathering dust
then go out and get a little moisture on it it will soon be looking
dingy. Wipe any spots with a damp natural sponge or soft
cloth. If plain water doesn't remove the spot, use a small
of mild detergent in the water and wipe it just with the
not get the leather sweatband wet. A leather is
to keep perspiration and body oil from wicking into the straw and
staining it. Heavy perspiration can shrink the leather over
and require having the leather replaced. That is
done, so don't give it away if it has gotten too tight for
you. Do not leave your hat, especially if it is damp, in a
hot car. This is a sure way to shrink the leather and dry out
straw. If your climate or your house is especially dry, you
keep the straw supple by periodically hanging your hat in the bathroom
while you shower. If you won't be wearing your hat for
the best place for it is in the hat box that came with it.
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