The hat, like the vest, the Hawaiian shirt, or braces, are classics. They should never go out of style. Unfortunately they do occasionally ebb in popularity but like a warm spring after a long winter, when they do return, all of nature rejoices.
Goorin Brothers have been in the hat business for well over a century. The company designed and manufactured bowlers, flat caps, fedoras and cloches for the carriage-riding residents of 19th century Boston. Over time hats became less popular. They went from a fashion essential, to an option, to the occasional curiosity. By the 1980’s the Goorin family, finding fewer takers for dressier headgear, had come to specialize in sports beanies and caps.
Still, the 19th century sensibilities continued to thrive in niche markets. Musicians especially kept the traditions alive. And, it is worth noting, that Japanese consumers continued to appreciate a well-made hat.
But a few years ago the great wheel of public awareness turned ’round. That, and a new understanding of the need for sun protection meant that once again, young and old were choosing to accessorize their heads in felt, tweed, and cotton.
Goorin Brothers were waiting to catch the wave, in particular the young scion Ben Goorin. He resurrected the company’s traditional styles and blocks. With his parents blessing he pushed to open new stores across the continent. Each had an old time look with high wooden shelves, the company name painted on the windows, and eager young staff, sporting the occasional tattoo.
They now have more than two dozen stores; from Massachusetts, to Minnesota, California, Texas, New Orleans, and now Toronto and Vancouver. Goorin Brothers is planning to expand soon to Japan.
The Department loves hats of virtually all kinds. And we found it particularly refreshing to see what Goorin are doing with baseball hats. They’ve taken a classic, authentic 1950s design and reproduced it faithfully, with a shallow peak and handsome piping. The hats are sized, so no need for those ugly adjustors on the back either. Best of all, these baseball hats feature no pro sport or corporate logos. We were happy to buy this one and add it to our collection.
One final note about the company’s charitable work. The Goorin Hat Tree is a project that provides hats to patients in hospitals, cancer centers, and children’s cancer camps. Incredibly, the company donates one hat for every two they sell in their store. To date Goorin Brothers has made some 40,000 donations of much needed head coverings. The Department takes our hat off to the Goorins’ continued efforts.