The Tumwater Hat Company is a specialty business catering to that small slice of the population that appreciates a well-made, classically styled fedora.
Our company founder spent years learning the hat-making and refurbishing trade. By asking a lot of questions and making a lot of mistakes (a few old hats were ruined along the way), he gained the knowledge he needed to confidently hang out his own “open for business” sign.
Among the things he learned is that there is nothing particularly complicated or mysterious about felt hats. Indeed, a hat is a rather simple thing – deceptively simple, perhaps, but still, it is essentially nothing more than a piece of animal fur felt shaped over a block of wood, a leather strip to cushion the wearer’s head, a bit of ribbon to trim the exterior and about a square foot of satin to prettify the interior. But there’s an almost endless array of procedures and tricks of the trade involved, both in the making of the basic materials and the crafting of them into a finished hat. Getting all those steps as “right” as possible is what distinguishes a truly fine hat from the typical off-the-rack offerings at your local men’s and Western wear shops.
Our hats are made to order and crafted by hand. Manufacturing processes the large hat factories carry out in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, often take us an hour or more. Our hat bodies are blocked – by hand. The crowns and brims are ironed and pounced (sanded) – by hand. Our liners, bows and ribbon bands are stitched (never glued) to the hat bodies – by hand. We use power machinery only for those few steps in the hat-making process, such as brim-edge binding, where the use of such machinery results in a better hat.
All the time and effort invested in our hats would be wasted by anything less than the best materials, so we buy from only the best specialty suppliers. While the large majority of the bodies used in mass-produced hats are made of rabbit fur, our hat bodies are 100 percent beaver. The large manufacturers typically use sweatbands made of “bonded” leather (the particleboard of leather); ours are vegetable-tanned sheepskin. Our bands and bows are made almost exclusively of vintage grosgrain ribbon. We’ve gone to considerable lengths in securing such “new/old stock,” and we continue to do so, because the vintage ribbon truly is superior to what’s made today. Indeed, while we are happy to show off every little detail of our hats, we are especially proud of our ribbon work.
We make no extravagant claims about our work, though. We’ll never say that ours are the best hats available anywhere. For to do so would not only be less than 100 percent accurate, it would be an affront to the fine custom hatters currently practicing the craft, many of whom produce hats every bit the equal of ours. And we limit our production to only those styles we feel well equipped to make. When a customer requests a style we feel another hat maker would do better, we gladly make the referral.
We can, however, confidently state that a Tumwater hat is a very good value. But don’t take our word for it. Shop around. Compare a Tumwater hat to what else is available, not just at our prices, but at two and three times as much.