The Incredible History of the Misnamed Panama Hat

In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt travelled to Central America to inspect the construction of the Panama Canal. While there, he was given a toquilla straw hat, made in Ecuador, which he wore constantly. Images of the President in his “Panama hat” were splashed across newspapers around the globe. The media and the public couldn’t get enough. The Panama hat became the fashion of the day.
Artisanal weaving of the Panama hat can be traced back to 1630, in the provinc-es of Guayas and Manabi, on the coast of Ecuador. This is the only region in the world where the Carludovica Palm grows. The toquillales are harvested, stripped, boiled, dried, and then weavers from local villages come to choose only the best materials for their craft. The process of weaving a single hat can take days, weeks, or even months. The finer the weave, the longer it takes, the higher quali-ty of hat. Hats are graded and priced based on the number of weaves in a square inch. The process is completed by washing, bleaching, molding, ironing and pressing into the final hat form.
In 2012, the weaving of the Panama hat was named to the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. You can now support this tradition by purchasing a genuine Panama hat from HM Flagler & Co.



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