Hats are having a moment. Where once they were a gentlemanly necessity to which no second thought was given, they are now increasingly being worn with intention, as style conscious men seek to express their individuality and bring flair to their wardrobes. For husband and wife Alex and Zofia Torun-Shaw, the wearing of a hat is an opportunity to distinguish oneself. So passionate are they about them that in 2009, they founded Laird Hatters, a hat label that specialises in crafting traditional headwear from premium British materials.
The Rake sat down with Alex to talk about the impetus behind the label and his enduring passion for hats of all kind.
What inspired you to initially establish Laird Hatters?
I love hats and caps, always have done since a trip to a hat shop as a child. The dressing up fantasy aspect of hats, like the Mr Benn cartoon, from pith helmets to panamas was amazing. My father had a wonderful array of classic hats - from top hats and bowlers, to trilbies and fedoras from the 1950s and '60s.
When we started Laird Hatters, hat shops were scarce in England. We wanted to take those classic styles and make them contemporary using colour, texture, and finish. To reinvent how you wore them, and what you wore them with. No other accessory adds drama to an outfit quite like a hat!
Where do you source materials for your hats?
The British Isles make the best cloth in the world. The majority of our cap cloth is sourced in England and Scotland. There are wonderful traditional weaving skills of course in the Hebrides, and Huddersfield also has a long manufacturing history.
Our hats felts come from Europe, where there are historic centres of fine felt making, dating back over 150 years. Sadly Luton manufacturing has died a death.