Panama hats can still be bought cheap in Panama ~~ Lou Following from the Internet
ESSENTIAL CLASSICS: THE PANAMA HAT
The Panama hat has a long and glorious history. Not only has it become an integral part of the stories of personalities like Napoleon, Theodore Roosevelt, Orson Welles, and Humphrey Bogart, the hat also has a legendary story of its own. So legendary, in fact, that the art of weaving a Panama hat was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists on 6 December 2012.
The story of the Panama begins in Ecuador in the 17th century. Traditionally, the hats were made from the plaited leaves of the Carludovica palmata plant, known locally as the toquilla palm or jipijapa palm. They are lightweight, breathable, and ideally paired with summer-weight suitsmade of linen or silk.
The hat was imported to Asia, Europe, and the rest of the Americas through the Isthmus of Panama, earning it the name it is now known by. As it spread outside of South America, the Panama was featured at the World Fair of 1856 in Paris. In the mid-nineteenth century it was sported by the miners of the California Gold Rush, who frequently traveled to California via the Isthmus of Panama. And in the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States sealed the fate of the Panama hat’s popularity once and for all, when he was photographed wearing one while visiting the construction site of the Panama Canal.
Today, the world’s most famous Panama hats are coming out of Alfred Dunhill and Borsalino. Dunhill’s classic is a roll-up Panama that can easily be folded into a small cylindrical bundle for traveling. Borsalino has become famous for its modern interpretations of the classic Panama style over the course of the brand’s 200+ year history. It takes six months for Borsalino to create just one Panama hat.
In Popular Culture
The golden age of Hollywood saw the Panama hat appearing on stars’ heads both on and off screen. It co-starred alongside Clarke Gable in Gone with the Wind, Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, Sean Connery in The Man Who Would Be King, and Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal. It has also appeared on the heads of many writers, including Mark Twain, Truman Capote, and Tom Wolfe. More recently, A-listers like Keira Knightly, Kate Moss, and Johnny Depp have all shown off their love for Panama hats.