We arrived in Alicante Spain and were picked up at the airport by Jose Signes. We headed to a restaurant in a small fishing village on the Mediterranean where we were served a seafood paella par excellence, made to order per Jose’s arrangements in anticipation of our arrival. Fully satisfied, it was then to off to the hat factory and work.
Jose and his brother-in-law Carlos run the factory begun by Jose’s father in the 1960s. When the straw-hat makers in Gatos de los Gorges began to close as a result of price pressures from Chinese competition, The Signes’ made the decision to differentiate themselves from China by upping their focus on quality and workmanship. Their boutique factory approach has been rewarded as they have survived while most others in this small historical hat making community have closed their doors.
A lot of time is spent with each hat (as our videos of hat making at Signes will attest). Although they cannot compete with China on price, they compare very favorably with other European factories on both quality and price in the “finer hats” sector of the industry. We worked with the family late into the night and produced an order for hats that you see displayed below (followed by a night of tapas and fine Spanish wine).
We are proud to be introducing these hats to North America.