It’s with great pleasure that we introduce Italy’s oldest and most storied hat-maker. Learn how to wear a hat with Borsalino
While newness and novelty drive so much of the luxury fashion and apparel world, the value of tradition and skilled expertise can’t be overstated, and Borsalino has nearly two centuries of knowledge about haute headwear, raw materials, and designs that defy passing trends.
The hat is a cultural symbol, a sign of belonging. It’s the perfect accessory to express personality and original flair—perhaps unlike any other item of clothing or accessory.
How to wear a hat
Q: Before we get into the history of Borsalino…what’s the single most important factor to consider in how to wear a hat? Is it the weather, or sizing of the hat, or matching the style to your outfit…?
A: The most important factor in selecting a hat is that it communicates individual style. The hat is a cultural symbol, a representation of individual aesthetics and taste, a sign of belonging. It’s the perfect accessory to express personality and original flair—perhaps unlike any other item of clothing or accessory.
Q: Borsalino makes many types of hats. Could you give us a brief overview of the types of hats and a brief description or background on each?
A: Borsalino is known for its classic, medium-brim felt hat, created by founder Giuseppe Borsalino and given its iconic status by the world of cinema. Everyone knows it.
But in recent collections, best sellers are actually styles that speak to a more contemporary audience especially younger and largely feminine markets. Borsalino is not only about legendary felt in all its forms, but also every type of headgear created with the same level of elegant craftsmanship and artisan savoir-faire from the hand-woven summer Panamas to the contemporary mastery of sequined fabric caps.
Finding your hat size is easy: you need to measure the circumference of your head, one centimeter above your ears. Use a flexible tape measure (or swing by your local tailor to have them measure). That number corresponds to your European size, which will range from about 57 to 61.
Q: Very few brands that still exist today have 164 years of history—and at that, solely making hats! What is it like to have such a legacy? How has the business changed over that time, and more recently with the shift to e-commerce?
A: Since 1857 Borsalino has been devoted to a production process handed down from generation to generation, which represents the maison’s ultimate cultural value and DNA. It’s the company’s heritage and winning ingredient. But Borsalino’s ongoing mission never loses sight of the importance of dialogue with the modern-day world.
Today, hats are no longer functional accessories used to simply protect oneself from weathering elements like the cold or the sun. They have become objects of desire, emotionally selected by the wearer.
This evolving and contemporary conversation also means that using contemporary tools like e-commerce and social media has helped strengthen a kindred sense of community and belonging, as well as speaking directly to new younger generations.
Q: I’ve been to the Borsalino shop inside Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. It’s tiny but very efficient and well-organized. What’s the value of a physical store to today’s hat shopper?
A: Our stores are magical places where brand lovers can encounter the world of Borsalino, whether one tries on a new model, receives style tips, or simply desires to experience hat expertise.
The Milanese boutique in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II has been active since 1883 and deserves a separate mention. Inside this precious space, one can actually breathe in the history of the Maison against the backdrop of one of the most famous city views.
Iconic hat styles and materials
Q: What is your favorite way to wear a hat? Tell us how to wear a hat by Borsalino.
A: The world of cinema is a big source of personal inspiration, so my favorite go-to pieces would include the classic medium brim felt hat worn slightly lowered on the forehead. But in general, there are many different ways to wear a hat, and no one should be afraid to experiment with individuality and personal style.
Q: Borsalino makes really beautiful hats. Tell us about some of the special design elements or materials that are unique to the Borsalino brand.
A: Borsalino collections are created under the artistic direction of Creative Curator Giacomo Santucci who has reconstructed a new concept of beauty based on a correlating dialogue between art and craftsmanship.
Inspiration originates from the company’s DNA and the second half of the nineteenth century, an era characterized by faith in progress, optimism and democratization of art. All these important elements are translated into the hats and enhanced by strong nuances of joie de vivre, diversity, and the freedom of personal expression.
Q: What are the primary materials you use, and what are the pros and cons of each one?
A: Felt is the main material for the winter season. It’s a soft, resistant, and richly-hued material obtained without spinning, weaving, or knitting. Originating from pure raw materials, it follows a process that has been handed down through generations since 1857. More than 50 manual steps and 7 weeks of processing are required to create just one hat.
Straw is the choice material for Spring/Summer. It is garnered from leaves of the dwarf palm (Carludovica Palmata)—otherwise known as the Panama palm—which Borsalino selects in the finest and most precious quality. Making a hand-woven Panama can take up to 6 months to create just one piece.
Q: What’s the quintessential piece from Borsalino? A good starter item for the modern tastemaker?
A: Quintessentially means iconic so without a doubt even though it’s been mentioned before, one has to go with the classic medium brim felt model launched by founder Giuseppe Borsalino. It’s a hat that has transpired numerous eras and styles.
To this day it still holds a unique and inimitable charm.
Q: Though the last year has been highly challenging—what’s one positive thing that has come out of the pandemic, for you personally or for the business?
A: The pandemic was unexpected, unpredictable and a virtual unknown, so it has forced the entire world to slow down. Borsalino has taken this moment to rethink its internal dynamics and how to better external communication, which has led to an accelerated company’s digitization process. This profound cultural methodology has most certainly transformed the way people work.
Through leveraging and exploring new tech solutions has ultimately helped simplify how to achieve objectives. In this way, the company’s activities have in essence become more agile, closing distanced gaps between partners, consumers and suppliers.
Q: Tourists have come to Italy for years to discover new (and old) names in luxury fashion accessories. Why do you think Italians are so good at design and craftsmanship?
A: Being surrounded by historic and artistic heritage is certainly an important factor in why Italians are so good at design and craftsmanship. Beauty is an intrinsic part of every Italian’s education growing up. Furthermore, Italians have been able to preserve national centurion know-how with passion, enthusiasm, and skill while evolving and pushing it into the future.
Q: As an insider, what are your favorite spots in Milan to eat, take aperitivo, and shop? Favorite bars? Best historical/touristic spots to see? Are there any places you would suggest our readers not miss if they visit (when we can travel more freely again)?
A: For me, Milan represents a sentimental web. Every corner is linked to a series of cherished memories. Apart from the more traditional tourist destinations like the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Teatro alla Scala and Castello Sforzesco, I would recommend a visit to the Triennale Museum, which always offers stimulating exhibitions.
Another favorite place is the Guastalla Gardens, one of Milan’s oldest and smallest parks full of color and quaintness. Outside the city center, a visit to the Isola, a historic district that contrasts with the modernity of the Porta Nuova skyscrapers, is definitely worth a visit. It’s also the area where one can find the Ratanà restaurant (one of my favorites) that features classic yet contemporary Milanese cuisine.
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