Given our base in Southern California, we have always considered panama hats to be our specialty. We, in fact, are also Panamas.com if you happen to forget our primary name. If you've visited our web site before, you probably know that panama hats are not from Panama but from the lowlands of western South America, primarily Ecuador. You also may know that the hat is made from panama straw (Latin name Carludovica palmata or local common name paja toquilla), and therefore a panama hat is not a style but rather a hat from this particular straw material. Panama hats are blocked in virtually any style. The quality of panama hats can vary significantly. A novice buyer should be careful when buying a fine quality panama hat; the retail market is neither clear nor consistent regarding grading and pricing.
You'll find both blocked and unblocked Montecristi hat bodies (Montecristi is a city in Ecuador's Manabi province). Montecristi is synonymous with the finest Panama hats in the world; be careful because qualities vary considerably even with hats from Montecristi. If you buy one, know you're buying a hand made item with centuries of tradition. We know that you will be impressed with both the tedious work as well as the culture associated with the making of these fine hats.
Here are a few links to additional information on Panama Hats:
Panamas: From the Ground Up (video) - Following the process from the jungles of Ecuador where Toquilla Palm leaves are collected through the finishing touches in a hat factory, this video shows the step-by-step process of making Panama Hats.
Panama Montecristi Fino Letter - We send a letter to customers who purchase a Montecristi Fino in an unblocked state. This information may be useful to those of you who are considering such a purchase.
Cleaning Your Panama Hat - Panama hats are much like anything else in life; if you want them to look good, you'll have to take care of them. Here are a few tips that you can use to keep your Panamas in tip top shape.