The man In the hat
Toquilla Straw

Toquilla Straw

This is the most flexible, weatherproof and durable hat straw, cultivated all over Central America and famously used to make handwoven Panama hats. The straw comes from the dried leaves of the Toquilla palm plant.

The best Panama hats are made in Ecuador, especially the town of Montecristi. Toquilla straw hats are also made in Peru, Colombia and Yucatan.

The quality and price of Toquilla Panama straw hats cover an astonishingly wide range, from US$ 30 to US$ 3 million, (for the finest Montecristi hat in history, made by Simon Espinal in 2014). It's all based on the density of the weave. The hats become lighter, stronger and more expensive as the number of strands increases.

Shantung Straw

In fact, this is not straw at all but a very high performance paper, rolled into a yarn to imitate straw. Originally made in Japan in 610 AD, it is thinner, lighter and stronger than any other paper. Nowadays, it is made in China and mainly comes from the Manila Hemp plant, native to the Philippines.

Since the mid-20th century, Shantung has been used to make more than half of all Cowboy hats in the US plus many stylish Fedoras. The hats are pressed and blocked out of sheets of Shantung.

Original Milan Straw

Milan Straw

Originally, the material known as Milan Straw was made from wheat grass, grown in Tuscany. When braided and woven into a hat, it had soft sheen, a pleasant fragrance and an intriguing texture, simultaneously lightweight, airy, structured and springy.

With the rise of the chemicals industry came a new, more cost-effective version of Milan Straw, made from twisted, resin-coated paper. It was harder, heavier and shinier. Soon, almost everybody stopped making hats out of wheat grass. That unique fragrance and texture became a distant memory.

These days, hardly anyone produces real wheat grass Milan Straw hats. However, vintage examples can still be found.

Modern Millan Straw


This comes from the veins of the leaves of the raffia palm, which grows in Madagascar, Africa and the Philippines. The vein comes away from the leaf as a long thin fibre, which is then dried, graded, dyed and woven. Raffia is soft, pliable, strong, durable, easy to dye and biodegradable.

Raffia hats are very comfortable to wear. The material is soft, breathable, rainproof, doesn't shrink and retains its shape - although not its colour - very well.


This exotic straw is made from young stalks of the Talipot palm. This palm is grown in Malabar and Sri Lanka. From the resulting straw, delicate hats can be created and they seem almost weightless! It's very easy to forget that you're even wearing a hat. They are also deceptively strong, with a plastic texture, as long as the straw doesn’t dry out and split.

Braided Straw

People have been plaiting wheat straw into braid since the 14th century. After braiding, the straw is bleached and then made into various articles, including hats. Such hats are extremely flexible, strong and with a rough texture. The best braided straw reputedly comes from Italy.


This hard, flat, braided straw is traditionally made from the fibres of coconut husks, combined with various grasses and straws. Sennit is is mostly sourced from Polynesia, where it is used extensively in construction, boatbuilding and many everyday objects. It is also traditionally used to make Boaters. The straw’s hard, brittle characteristics, plus strengthening layers of varnish, make for a stiff, formal summer hat.