W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.
Issue link: http://wetoday.epubxp.com/i/617658
Stetson T e hat industry has changed a lot since Stetson was set- ting up shop in 1865, but Hatco remains committed to one thing in particular. "A lot of production has moved out of the U.S.," says Matthew Range, Hatco's marketing director, "but we are committed to remaining in the U.S. One way we've been able to do this is by being vertically integrated. We are the only hat company that takes raw fur at our Longview facility and manufactures a hat fur felt body. From there it travels to Garland, where it is f nished. We're the only hat manufacturer that does this. It's a labor- and time- intensive process, but we feel it's necessary in order to control the quality of the hat. "If we were to buy hat bodies from outside the United States, we can't know with certainty that the hat has been adulterated with lesser quality ingredients. T e only way is to buy the pelts or the raw fur and make the hats from scratch." More than 200 steps go into making a Stetson, and the company still uses the machines and molds that were used two generations ago. "T at is practically unheard of in today's world," says Kaci Riggs, Hatco's director of product development. "T e time-honored craf smanship is something we are proud of. We have our own machine shop, where we service and repair the equipment to keep them in peak condition." Stetson appeals to customers who value style and quality but want an American-made product, Riggs says. Wider brims and lower crowns seem to be the trend for straws and felts, with vented crowns popular with straws and that simple but timeless look – a two-cord ribbon or self-felt band with a three-piece buckle set popular on felts. While Stetson has typically been more popular among mature and successful audiences, Riggs notes that many of the so-called millennial generation are gravitating toward some of the older classic Stetson styles because of the brand's iconic image and authentic status. "We've seen a resurgence in older classic styles in mainstream America," Riggs says. "T e Open Road and the Open Range, both smaller brimmed hats, have seen a surge in popularity with millennial." And Stetson's casual/dress line is gaining interest in the Western markets. "Women particularly have really picked up on the fedora look," Riggs says. "It's a little bit causal but a lot more fashionable than a baseball cap." How can a name remain so widely recognized af er more than 150 years? "It's a testament to American craf smanship," Riggs says. "Being able to be part of the team that has been making hats for what is now 150 years is a proud honor." Or, as Chladiuk puts it across the Atlantic Ocean in Belgium: "I think the hat as well as the name is a legend." 48 Western & English Today All f nishing work is done at the Garland facility: Brim f ange molds (top) being set up; hats bodies being steam-blocked (center); and hat brims being f anged (above).