We first came across Shop Andes’ Panama Hat when we spotted Ecuadorian blogger Cristina Maag wearing fun variations of it all over New York Fashion Week. As it turns out, Maag wasn’t wearing the hats as a fashion statement, instead she was on a mission to bring awareness to the Manabi province in Ecuador, the epicenter of an earthquake that hit earlier this year and left its beautiful beaches in rubble, by wearing the hat.
With our interest piqued, we asked the question why the Panama hat when representing Ecuador? What we learned from there was that the Panama hat is a complete misnomer. This classically-brimmed straw hat style doesn’t originate from Panama, in fact, the style actually came from Ecuador’s coastline, a region where superior hat weaving has flourished for centuries. And more specifically, the highest quality of these toppers came from Manabi. In the 19th and 20th centuries, hats from Manabi and its greater region were shipped to Panama before being distributed to other parts of the world, and that is where the hat got its name.
Shop Andes’ take on the Ecuadorian classic uses original toquilla straw. The Giraffe print style, shown above, uses a 24k gold leaf to create a giraffe print inspired by Gustav Klimt’s “The Woman in Gold” painting. All of the company’s hats (and other accessories) are handmade only with Ecuadorian raw materials by Ecuadorian artisans, to support local merchants, families and economies.
The Panama Hat retails for $130 and can be purchased at shopandes.com.