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What is a genuine Panama hat (Montecristi Hat)?

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Toquilla straw hats are synonymous with elegance and freshness, it is inevitable not to acquire this craft to look good and stylish. In general, many travelers or people who are dedicated to tourism, choose to buy the toquilla straw hats to cover themselves from the sun and to have that adventurous appearance. In the fashion world these crafts have become very important when combining clothing.

For more than a century the Montecristi's Hats, erroneously called  "Panama Hats" have captivated important personalities and tourists from all over the world, either for their elegance or for the good taste that this accessory has, it has been an indispensable piece in the closet of men and women for a long time.

Currently, when you want to buy a Panama Hat, you must choose between several models and prices, and although each one is unique because it is hand-woven by an artisan, sometimes it is important to know how to differentiate the different degrees of each and know which one it is the most exclusive, to differentiate them from those of a lower range. But you may wonder, how do I know that the hat is original and of good quality? Knowing the quality or grade of the hat is easy, and knowing whether a hat is 100% original too.

The hats produced in the historic canton of Montecristi in the Province of Manabí, Ecuador, are known and sought after for their extreme finesse. Here the artisans have a ancestral knowledge of hand-weaving techniques. and they also place special emphasis on the choice of the caliber of toquilla straw (Carludovica palmata), collected in the forests that surround this small city.

The most important factor in determining the quality of a hat is the fineness of the straw. At first this can be seen only with a closer look. We must not forget that the thinner the weave the more time it takes to weave the hat, therefore it’s more expensive.

It should be noted that the most important factor in determining the quality of a hat is the fineness of the fabric. In the first instance this can be appreciated only by seeing it closely. The thinner the fabric, the more time it takes to elaborate and therefore they are more expensive and finer.

What are the degrees of Montecristi's hat?

The quality of the hat is measured by "degrees". The degree is the number of threads per square inch or the number of threads per centimeter. The Fine hat is from grade 10 to 20, the Superfine from grade 20 to 30, and the Supreme from grade 30 and up. The latter can take up to six arduous months to make, and due to their unmatched quality they can be sold for more than a thousand dollars.

The quality of toquilla straw hats can be determined by 3 very simple factors:

  • The color of the hats must be uniform, the nuances in the fabric are not synonymous with quality and care when making a hat, if you see a hat with a color that is not uniform, you must discard it, the quality of a hat of toquilla straw is observed in that the fabric is of a single tone. This denotes cleanliness and responsibility on the part of the weaver when making a hat.
  • The weaving of the hats represents the quality of the same, the finer the better, when you see that their weaving is tiny, it shows that it has taken months to make and the braiding of the fiber has been complex, also their alignments in the weave must be symmetrical and organic, you can fold them and return to their original shape without a problem, that is why, the finer the hat, the higher its cost.
  • A toquilla straw hat is made by the same person, it is important that the hat, is knitted the same, must have the same thickness, and the strands fully aligned. Each hat is unique, the fabric is made from start to finish by the same person, ensuring its homogeneity in the fabric, the symmetry, and its even tonality by using the same palm fiber. You must be careful when looking at a hat, because a piece like this must be completely homogeneous and symmetrical on all sides.

If a Straw Hat meets these requirements, it means that it is of high quality. Hats are bought according to their finesse, and the price is established by this factor, that is, the finer a hat, the more expensive it will be. A very important fact is that toquilla straw hats are beige, but can also be found in white. If you want to buy one of white or other colors, check that the color is uniform, because a hat with slightly nuanced colors does not look good.

Another way to compare fineness is to hold the hat up to the light and count the number of rings visible inside the glass. With a greater number of turns, the fabric is finer, for example, 25 rings correspond to an Extra Fine Hat. However, this method is not very common or very reliable.

At EcuadorianHands we make sure that all the hats comply with each of the quality standards so that a unique and perfect piece will arrive in your hands that will make you look fabulous.

Panama Hat care

We hope these directions can guide you when you make your next purchase. Besides, we remind you that being a handmade accessory, with a knowledge of hundreds of years, passed down from generation to generation by the inhabitants of the city of Montecristi, this hat with unrivaled characteristics has caught the attention of organizations both in Ecuador and the world, so remind you that the Montecristi Hat was declared by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Our "Montecristi Hats" ("Panama hats") are graded by grades 13, 14, 15, 16, etc. Grade 16 is finer than grade 13 and therefore more expensive. Please select the quality that suits your style.

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