Hats up-date a look, frame the face, and add personality like no other accessory can do. Like the cloche that dominated the "roaring 20's", the cowboy hat defines the first decade of the 21st Century. Celebrities set this trend in motion, which is enjoying its fifth year. Distressed straws with rolled brims are the most desirable look, but that's only the beginning in the cowboy hat rage. And the retailers with the right items in this classic look will be ringing the cash register.
Start with the pinch front distressed shapeable hat. This is the hottest number. These hats are treated to give a dark well-worn look. The pinch front shape comes to a point at the upper front of the crown with indentations on each side. This shape is like the fedoras our dads or granddads wore in the fifties. Shapeable brims have wire in the edge allowing the brim to be rolled or shaped. The individualism that shaping allows makes this classic western look irresistibly popular.
The downside is the retail world has awakened to how hot the distresses roll-up is, so there will be plenty of competition this year. So hedge your bet with another hot item that most have overlooked--colored cowboy hats. This market is wide open with black and white being the best. But fashion colors like red, pink, turquoise, and lime will get plenty of action also. Include color in your cowboy hat selection because your competition probably won't.
Another area that gives you a competition edge is in the glamour look. Cowboy hats have moved into the fashion arena with plenty of glamorous designs for high fashion looks. Choose colored hats with rhinestone bands, metallic lurex weaved in the fabric, sequin studded, are new this year, floral patterns of embroidery and sequins. They are all affordable and offer your clientele stylish glitz if they don't want the rugged look.
It's not only cowboy hats this season, hats overall are a rising trend. The newsboy and more puffy versions like the jockey or cabby are very good. The fedora will continue contrary to some fashion gurus' predictions. New fabrics and designs will be the catalyst. But outside of cowboy hats, the most important casual hat of the summer will be colored wide brims. By seasons end this hat will outsell everything but the cowboy. Stock early though because by mid-season they are hard to find.
Ladies Dress Hats
Every veteran retailer in the dressy hat business knows that the peak of the season is from March until Mother's Day. Business is brisk with a search for Easter hats, Mother's Day hats, and for some, Derby hats. White, ivory, black, and Easter pastels are always good with a surprise color or two thrown in every season. This year the surprise colors are natural colors, plus lime and orange. Next, what are the latest trends in design?
Direction in trends is not as easy as it was 50 years ago. Throughout the 19th Century and first half of the 20th Century nearly every man and woman going to church wore a hat. The millinery business flourished and leading designers set trends. Change in social attitudes and ecclesiastical rules in the sixties sent the dress hat millinery business into a decline. Today, the industry lacks a Coco Channel or Lilly Dache' to define trends in dressy hats. But that doesn't mean there isn't excitement. This season's selection is a showcase of the best in millinery history with the reinvention of swooping cavaliers from the early 1900s, lampshades from the sixties, and elegant small brims with that Audrey Hepburn look of the classic movie era. In addition, the safe traditional shapes are there like the kettle, rolled down brim, and most of all, the wide brim.
Polypropylene is the most popular material for dress hats Weaving lurex into polypropylene is new development that started last year and will flourish this season. The lurex adds a sophisticated shimmer to the dress hat.
Another fresh look is expanding brims to magnificent widths with horsehair. Brims reach 6 inches in this exciting new style. Milliners making derby hats says brims of 6 inches and more are the styles.
An important key in this market is that no lady wants to meet someone else wearing her hat. Unique is important. Solving the problem isn't as difficult as it sounds. Today you can buy the most popular shape in polypropylene hats (the consumers' favorite in summer dress hats) and pre-made trims. Elaborate trims have a band attached and go on in less than 5 minutes with a hot glue gun. Now you can mix and match hats and trims for solid color or two-tone. Get your customer's approval on a design and you have their hat ready in less than 5 minutes. Best of all, you save a third on cost.
The dress hat business is strongest in early spring so prepare early for this lucrative market.
Hat Trends from 2006