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History of the cowboy hat

Jul 28,2023 | fashionshat

There are several western hats that are part of Far West history, but the one that has become a myth that nowadays remains is the cowboy hat. More than a hat, is a true emblem, as country music universe lovers know


But beyond the symbol they represent, the cowboy hats or western hats in general, are an accessory for our attire that we can take more advantage than it seems. In fact, western hats are an excellent companion in some of our best journeys, like countryside or beach days, horse riding trails, western riding competitions, and of course!, our special line dance nights.  

But, what was the original cowboy hat design? Its creation is attributed to the hat maker John Batterson Stetson,  when at mid of 1860’s designed and commercialized the first model that founded the typical western hats dynasty. That hat was the “Boss of the plains”, starting a new milestone on the western style that more than a Century and a half later still persist.

Nowadays the cowboy hats are a classic on ranchers and factory workers at South West United States, like at all East part of the Rocky Mountains as well. But beyond their functional characteristics, like protecting from the burning sun and the rain, their unique style and culture that represent make their use to have no frontiers. 

At fashionshat we know it first-hand, that’s why we are specialists in genuine western hats for men, women and kids comming from United States, Colombia, Mexico and Europe.

But let’s continue knowing the history that precedes this western culture emblematic accessory.


The “Boss of the plains” making its own way

Legend says from one of history’s most mythical hats, that its creator John Batterson Stetson was ill when had the wise choice to design it. It seems like John, son of another hat maker that passed on the trade, was sent to Colorado to recover with the change of weather. And was precisely during that period of time when had the idea of designing a high crown and wide brim hat to protect from the sun and rain. 

The instinct told him that his creation could be a success and deserved taking the risk, so he returned back to Philadelphia to open a small shop where producing his creation. He had no money nor too much health, but he was determined to sell his “Boss of the plains” to businessmen and bankers from the northeast.

Although business starting was slow and difficulties weren’t missing, his instinct didn’t mislead him, and all his efforts were rewarded with the success that arrived between 1885 and 1895. It was during that period of time when the cowboy hat triumphed in Texas, that adopted it like a clothing symbol until our days. 

After his success in the cowboy territory, when the turn of the Century was very close John B Stetson let his successful creation know at the West between businessmen, ranchers and cowboys. 

The great popularity didn’t take long to arrive and thanks to that John B Stetson business remained, because after his death the company passed to his son, but he unfortunately hadn’t his father’s talent. His wrong management, almost made the business to shut down and stop producing hats for a while, until a new ownership arrived. Even so, the company also ended up devastated, resuming hat’s production in successive subsidiaries until 1998.

It was then when new owners joined the company moving the factory to Garland, Texas. Nowadays, this State stands out by its cowboy hats production, which is their official headdress. 

Ode to the West

Today’s cowboy hat

If at a first moment its use was merely functional, with passing of time the cowboy hats turn into a sign of identity adopted by north American and from all around the world country music singers, by rodeo contenders, and for any person that wanted to highlight his affinity to the cowboy lifestyle. 

If we go back in the history beyond the creation of this mythical hat, we’ll see there are several predecessors. We could say that the cowboy hat descends from a cross of the Mexican cowboy hat, the US cavalry hat, and in a lesser extent the casual daily hat.

Cowboy hat’ symbolic power and charisma keep nowadays intact, and one of the things that demonstrates it, is that its shape has remained  the same, despite the passing of time and successive fashion trends. True to its essence, the only novelties in design that the cowboy hat has experienced are more color variety and materials, as you can check at fashionshat local store or our online shop catalog

Our cowboy hats are divided by Winter or summer styles depending on the material they are made of: wool felt, straw, canvas or even faux felt or straw, to adapt the whole year seasons. Most of the models have shapeable brim so you can easily modify it at your convenience and style preferences.

As specialized store we are, at fashionshat we can advise you to choose the best cowboy hat whether look for a cheap western hat for a one-time use or  want a high quality cowboy hat made with the best materials and fine decorative details: be sure that it already exists and is waiting for you. Do we give you a hand?