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Don't Draw The Short Straw
In each and every one of our panama hats, you will find a stamp. It is a stamp of authenticity. It tells you that you can be guaranteed of the quality of the hat on which it sits. But each stamp also tells a story. A story of patience, hard work and knowledge.
It’s also a story of people. There’s a community of skilled hands behind every Penmayne panama hat, in fact we say that at least seven pairs of skill hands have worked to create these hats by the time they come to you. And we think that's pretty special!
Our panama straws are made in Ecuador (authentic panamas are exclusively from Ecuador - not Panama) where traditional techniques of sourcing and weaving are used by highly skilled local communities. The hats begin their lives as Toquilla straw growing in the coastal regions of Ecuador, which is then cut by hand using a machete before being bundled and transported to the weaving villages.
Panama straw weaving is centred in two regions in Ecuador; Montecristi is known for making the best quality panama straws in the world (amazingly it can take up to seven months to weave one montecristi panama hat) and Cuenca is home to slightly larger scale production using the same traditional techniques.
In the weaving villages, the Toquilla straws are opened by hand and the inner leaf of the straw is split into numerous thin straws. Only the highest quality straws are used to weave our panama hats and once selected these straws are boiled, dried and smoke-treated over a period of days which bleaches the straw to achieve the natural panama colour we know and love.
Our panama straws are then expertly woven by artisan weavers, starting with the 'armado' of the hat which is the tightly woven top of the crown from which the rest of the hat emanates. The process of weaving these straws can take 2-3 days per hat - all of that love and care and attention going into one hat.
Once the weaving is complete, our straws continue their journey to Italy to be blocked (shaped) by one of the most experienced family-run hat manufacturers in the world and then continue to London where they are hand-trimmed by us in the Penmayne studio.
That's three countries and over 5,500 miles travelled by one hat - a well-travelled hat bound for further adventures. So wherever you’re off to this summer, take your panama with you, it’ll be your best tour guide.