Put away your beanies and your bowlers – today is Straw Hat Day, the unofficial start of summer.
Straw Hat Day marks the point when, in traditional British society, day-to-day felt hats were hung back on the rack in favour of a breezy boater, cool conical or pleasantly temperate panama.
Until September 15, society dictates an outright ban on hats made with densely compressed fibrous fabrics such as felt and buckram.
The tradition has origins in Victorian society, but the day itself was established in 1922 following the infamous Straw Hat Riots in New York.
For eight days The Big Apple raged after youths ‘hat stomped’ a group of dock workers’ straw headwear; an established and much accepted punishment befalling the city’s tardy fashionistas.
The brawl spread across Manhattan with 1000 strong mobs patrolling the streets. Several men were arrested and many more hospitalised.
Although self-appointed fashion police have simmered down in the intervening years, the straw hat has recently made a resurgence.
London-based hat maker Natasha Moorhouse is at the heart of this rising market.
After studying with the late Queen Mother’s milliner she opened her own studio in Clapham five years ago, specialising in bespoke, couture straw hats.
“Straw hats are incredibly popular,” Natasha said.
“Apart from men’s top hats, the vast majority of wide brimmed, wedding and function hats are made from straw.”
Natasha now works from Babel Studios in Borough, producing hats from a range of different straws.
A popular woven material is sinamay, an extract of coconut fibre more typically associated with the production of paper money.
Natasha uses it as a hat material however and, in flagrant defiance of a centuries old tradition, as the base for Christmas wedding hats.
Feature image courtesy of Natasha Moorhouse Millinery, with thanks, embedded image courtesy of Thomas Hawk, with thanks