Lock & Co. are proud to launch a new limited edition James Bond hat. View

Lock & Co.

~

The Home of Panama Hats
in Great Britain

The Story of Panama Hats

No product has probably ever been so misnamed as the Panama hat. These straw hats
have been handcrafted exclusively in Ecuador for over 500 years, and it remains
the only country in the world with such a long tradition of weaving.

Indeed, such is the quality and resilience of these Ecuadorian hats, they were the
protection (from the sun) of choice for the builders of the Panama Canal. When
President Roosevelt came to oversee the construction in 1906, photographs of
him appeared in the newspapers around the world wearing “his Panama hat” – and in that moment, the name was coined and subsequently stuck.

Visit Ecuador today, and you will see that the craft and traditions of weaving a
straw Panama hat have hardly changed. The precision and meticulous craft skills
have been passed down through generations. Weaving is still a way of life for
many people in Ecuador, for both men and women, notably in the villages around Cuenca
and Montecristi.

Such is the dedication to the craft that weavers work very early in the morning or in the evenings, when they know the humidity levels are at their highest, and the toquilla straw is at its most supple and malleable. The toquilla straw is woven in the home, out in the fields, along the road while walking children to school (sometimes with babies on their backs) or sitting in the market square at the weekends. The weavers split the toquilla palm straw into razor-thin strands, plaiting ring after ring of palm into soft-as-silk straw fabric, working from the apex of the crown outwards.

Each Lock & Co. straw Panama hat is blocked by hand using traditional methods,
trimmed with fine grosgrain ribbon, and finished with a beautifully soft leather or pure cotton inner sweatband. For longevity and shape retention, we add silicon inside the pinch. Perfect for warm climates, our Panamas are lightweight and breathable, and they feature Lock & Co.'s signature characteristics: quality, durability, and craftsmanship.

There are two classic weaves for crafting a genuine Panama hat; the Cuenca weave,
which has a herringbone pattern, and the Brisa weave, which has a less
intricate pattern of small interlocking diamonds.

The Cuenca weave is a few milligrams heavier than the Brisa weave. Weavers achieve
a finer weave by using a thinner strand, and the quality relies more on the patience, consistency and skill of the weaver. These fine woven hats take much longer to produce, which is reflected in the cost, and are much scarcer and more valuable.

Montecristi hats (derived from the town of the same name and protected with UNESCO heritage status) are woven in the herringbone style, and are typically in the finest,
narrowest weaves, although some of the super-fine Panamas can also be sourced from the Cuenca region.

Across the whole of Ecuador, you can count on one hand the number of craftspeople who have the knowledge and skills to create the ultimate Panama grades seen in our bespoke pieces, making them not just rare, but beautiful artworks to be cherished for life.

Lock & Co. believes that hand-weaving Panama hats is an essential craft worth
preserving. We take care that the weavers are paid fairly, and we only work
with trusted suppliers who are based in Ecuador. We only stock genuine Panama
hats that are made in Ecuador, using traditional methods, and seek the very finest straw hoods with which to block our hats, in exclusive shapes to Lock & Co.

Men's collection

Our men’s collection of genuine Panama hats offers a choice of weave. The bestselling and enduring Fairbanks, the timeless Classic and the ultra-fine Ventnor, which can take up to six months to make, are a Cuenca weave (herringbone pattern), while the sand-coloured San Diego and Santa Barbara, with their teardrop-shaped crowns, are a Brisa weave (small diamond pattern).

The ultra-fine Cuenca weave of the Superfino Montecristi is a hat of rare beauty, with a meticulously intricate finish and incredibly soft, silken feel. The Superfino is also available in a rollable version making it your perfect travel companion. Lock & Co. also offer a bespoke Panama hat, which can be tailored to your specific requirements and which takes up to nine months to weave.

Women’s Collection 

Our collection of women's Panama hats delivers a feminine finesse and is the perfect complement to your summer wardrobe. Whether it is the stylish  Berwick, the timeless Peacehaven, the elegant Lewes with the Cuenca herringbone pattern weave, or a dashing Cassis with the Brisa small diamond pattern weave we have a Panama for every occasion, including simply for relaxing in the sun. For something a little extra special choose the wide brim,  Andrea from our 007 limited edition collection, and for sun drenched holidays the  rollable St Ives white Panama hat makes an easy travel companion.

Panama Hat Care

A genuine Panama hat requires only a minimal amount of care to keep it looking perfect year after year. Here are some of our top tips:

Never pinch the crown of a straw Panama hat; be gentle with it, and instead hold it by the brim.

Panama hats are best stored in a hat box, and certainly away from direct sunlight at
least.

Regular steaming is highly recommended, and never dry a straw Panama hat that has been caught in a rain shower on a radiator or in an airing cupboard – let it dry
naturally at room temperature.

Our team of hatters can answer any questions about caring for your Panama hat

Contact Us

Lock & Co. Panama hats are more than just an accessory; they are a personal investment in you and a head piece to treasure, full of craft, quality and heritage.

SIMILAR ARTICLES

Have a scroll and discover some of our other articles, from press coverage to style guides and informational pieces.

View all

  • Top tips on buying hats for bigger heads: Find the best style, comfort, and fit at Lock & Co.

    Here's your comprehensive Lock & Co. guide to choosing hats that fit well in a larger size.

  • The Rake magazine's international issue

    We love this photoshoot featuring our boaters and Florida flat cap for The Rake magazine.

  • Wedding Hat Etiquette

    Rules surrounding wedding guest millinery are not what they once were however here at Lock & Co. Hatters we firmly believe that choosing the right piece is both a decision of style and etiquette.

  • The timeless appeal of a luxury Panama hat

    This summer, embrace the timeless appeal of a luxury Panama hat.

  • A Royal Warrant of Appointment to King Charles III

    Lock & Co. is tremendously honoured to have been granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment to His Majesty King Charles III as hatters.

  • IN CONVERSATION WITH: MEG SIMMONDS

    On the 26th  of October 2022, Lock & Co. opens ‘60 Years of James Bond Hats’, an exclusive exhibit celebrating the film franchise’s 60th Anniversary.

  • PRESS COVERAGE: TATLER

    Our Estate Faux Fur Hat, Tiffany Drop-Brim Hat and Gill Tweed Flat Cap look great in this shoot for the June 2024 issue of Tatler Magazine.

  • Packable & Rollable Hats Guide

    We have the solution to all your travel chapeau woes! From Panamas and sun hats to bucket hats and trilbies, these hats have been designed specifically for traveling and won’t lose their shape when packed into a suitcase, so there’s no need to leave your favourite hat behind…

  • All about Top Hats

    The top hat is the pinnacle of a gentleman's formal wardrobe, and is associated with Royal Ascot and weddings.  Discover more about top hats and how to clean a top hat.