Giuseppe Borsalino was born in 1834. As a young man, he went to Paris to become an apprentice hatter. He then returned to Italy and, in 1857, set up a workshop in Alessandria. By 1910, this had turned into a factory, with 2,500 workers making 2 million hats per year. The élite classes fell in love with these gorgeous, malleable hats. Borsalino later became world famous as the favourite hat of Hollywood star Humphrey Bogart.
However, hat wearing declined in the 1950s and all the great brands had to consolidate. Borsalino closed the Alessandria factory in 1986 and downsized. When the Borsalino family sold the company in 1992, the brand diminished. Some hat production moved to China. Customers complained about the look and feel of the new hats and deserted the brand. Amid financial irregularities, the CEO was arrested and, finally, Borsalino was declared bankrupt in 2017.
It was bought by private equity owners in 2018. With the stated aim of “reinterpreting” the classics, Borsalino currently makes street fashion hats and accessories. Its product lines have names like “Bogart” and “Alessandria”, in memory of the brand’s former greatness.