About Montecristi Custom Hats

Since 1976, Montecristi Custom Hat Works has been driven by the idea of acquiring the finest raw material (hat bodies) available in the world. Today our inventory of these materials is completely unmatched by titans of industry or any number of fine custom shops. Here at Montecristi we are masters in both Panama and Fur Felt. Very rare in the custom hat business.

Speaking of industry, back in the late 70’s, we refueled the demand for handmade Montecristi Panama hats at a time when it was widely believed to be a dying art. By paying more for fine material, we accelerated production and the national and international press rewarded us for what we were accomplishing. Creating more demand and even higher prices paid directly to the weavers. It also allowed us to accept an order from John Milano who at the time was President of Resistol Hats for 500 dozen of our famous 8/9Z, a vented crown western body woven in Cuenca, Ecuador. That is 6,000 Panama hat bodies and indicative of the role Montecristi played in sustaining and expanding the production of Panama hats in South America.

Delgado Garay, of Montecristi, Ecuador, the patriarch of the group of old timers, first started working with Montecristi in the early 70’s, died in November 2019 at the age of 92. And while he was the last of my original group, many fine weavers are still working, some exclusively for Montecristi Custom Hat Works and production is strong.

So excuse me if I “toot my horn” a little too loud, but I am excessively proud of the role I played in “The Legend of the Montecristi Panama Hat”. Maybe I’ll write that book someday!

In the Fur Felt industry our contributions may have been less impactful but certainly not slight. Prior to adding Fur Felt bodies to our custom production, I visited three of the most important body plants in the world to better understand this material. Then I acquired Lone Star Hatters in Austin, Texas to afford myself with the hands-on opportunity to learn how to finish this wonderful material.

During this time, I also developed a special relationship with Borsalino, Italy and Irving Joel who had acquired both Resistol and Stetson. During the early eighties, when Borsalino passed into Federal Receivership, Montecristi, along with American and Italian partners made an offer to acquire Borsalino but were outbid by an Italian family by 1.5 million. Stetson and Mr. Joel recognized Montecristi by allotting us the first ten 100X branded hats that they ever produced, numbered 1 through 10 of 100.

Partially woven panama hat