NOV 3, 2013 | Stylish design has placed San Francisco Hat Company in top fashion magazines including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Glamour, and Seventeen, but co-founders and co-designers Sally Kellman, and Stefan Schinzinger, might also be thought of as millinery preservationists. Their commitment to finely crafted, packable, wearable fashion was originally inspired by their fascination with the beautiful hand woven straw hats of Ecuador – called “panamas” because they first came to the attention of North Americans through travelers who purchased them while crossing the Isthmus of Panama.

The panama hat industry has been recognized by the United Nations as an indigenous craft giving artisans an opportunity to work for themselves and earn money without having to forsake their own communities and cultural traditions, and as a model for other indigenous craft industries. Sally toured with and consulted on a United Nations panama hat project in Ecuador.

Stefan’s love for panama hats goes back to 1980, when he crewed on a sailboat to Panama, then travelled to Ecuador. He spent three months on the coast at the equator, a few miles from Montecristi, the dusty hometown of the fabled Montecristi fino panamas. An industrial designer, Stefan became fascinated with the light, soft, rollable hats, which provide perfect portable shelter from the equatorial sun.

At that time, most panama hats sold in the United States were shellacked, which made them look good on store shelves, but also made them brittle, breakable and uncomfortable to wear. Stefan began importing panama hat bodies to California and designing hats that showcased their special qualities: lightness, cool ventilation, comfort, resiliency, packability. He assembled a collection of antique and modern hatting tools, started San Francisco Hat Company and transferred the same aesthetic to hats made of other straws, as well as felt, fleece, wool, linen and other fabrics.

When you’re hat shopping for hats, particularly for the beach, you might not think beyond style, a wide brim, and comfort, but San Francisco Hat Company has made technical performance features like UV sun protection part of many of their hat designs. When UV radiation strikes a fabric, part is reflected, part is absorbed, and the rest is transmitted through the fabric to reach the skin. San Francisco Hat Company hats have been awarded the highest rating of UPF 50+.

This is a great company with a socially conscious mission, and we’re proud to say, that they are also donors to our efforts at Parkinson’s Women Support Holiday Bazaar. Our hats are off to San Francisco Hat Company.

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