One day after school last week, we went on an excursion to learn about Panama Hats. Are you wondering why we’d learn about Panama hats in Ecuador? You’re not alone. These hats were made popular during the construction of the Panama Canal because all the workers were wearing them, but they were actually made here in Ecuador! Consider yourself slightly more informed and worldly today, just for reading our blog!
Our destination was the largest Panama Hat exporter here in Ecuador. There is a museum explaining both the old and new construction process, which leads to the actual manufacturing areas, and finally to a gift shop. We saw the old tools and heavy irons used to make the hats entirely by hand before the Industrial Revolution. These days, after the basic hat shape is woven by hand, the hats are washed and pressed into shape using machines.
The classic Panama hat design may be easy for anyone to spot, but it is no longer the only thing out there. These days, Panama hats come in all sorts of shapes and designs, and it is only the material and weaving process that still define them as Panama hats. We took a peak into the sewing room, where seamstresses meticulously add bits and pieces of fabric, beads and feathers to make many unique hat designs. On the wall outside of the sewing room, there were photos upon photos o f famous people wearing Panama hats.
Of course, we each had to end our excursion by trying on a few different hats. Elliott was surprised to see how good he looks in the classic style, and decided to buy one when/if we move here. I had fun trying on the more unique and feminine styles – what do you think?
Here’s a link to the place we visited: Homero Ortega Panama Hats