For more than a century “Montecristi Hats”,erroneously called “Panama Hats” have captivated the taste and preference of important personalities and tourists around the world. Currently when you want to buy a genuine hat you must choose between multiple models and prices, and although each one is unique in its own way, sometimes it’s a disadvantage not to distinguish the most exclusive from those that are just average.
The hats produced in the historic town of Montecristi in Manabi (Ecuador) are well known their extreme finesse. Here the artisans have ancestral knowledge of hand-weaving techniques. They put special emphasis when collecting the straw (Carludovica Palmata), which is found in the mountains surrounding this ancient town.
The most important factor in determining the quality of a hat is the fineness of the straw. At first this can be seen only with a closer look. We must not forget that the thinner the weave the more time it takes to weave the hat, therefore it’s more expensive.
The quality of the hat is measured by “weave degrees”. The degree is the number of rows per linear inch. Fino Hat is grade 10-20, the Superfino or Extrafino Hat grade 20-30 and Supreme Hat grade 30 onwards.
A supreme hat can take up to six arduous months of hard work by HAND. There are limited and therefore more expensive. Due to its high quality it can be sold for thousands of dollars a piece.
There is another way to compare the fineness of a hat is to place the hat to the light and count the number of rings visible on the inside of the crown. The greater the number of rings, the thinner the weave will be, for example, 25 rings belong to an Extrafino Hat. However this method is not very usual neither very reliable.
Two important things that we should not forget are the alignment and color of the straw of Montecristi Hat. In a high quality hat, the straw must be straight and aligned over the entire surface. The same goes for the color, which should be absolutely homogeneous.
We hope that these instructions can guide you properly when making your next purchase. Also, remind you that the Montecristi Hat was declared by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Our “Montecristi Hats” (“Panama Hats”) are qualified by grades 13, 14, 15, 16, etc. Grade 16 is finer than Grade 13 and therefore more expensive. Please choose the quality that suits your style. Have a great day!