In the mid-1990s we flew to Quito, Ecuador. Our primary goal was to continue our learning curve with regard to Panama Hats. These legendary hats, irrespective of their name, are made from a plant found on the west coast of South America (Carloduvica palmata or as the locals call it, “paja toquilla”), the finest examples of which are from Ecuador. This trip included a big, unexpected bonus. We discovered the Escudero family who for generations have been making felt hats in their Quito factory. While we were being given a tour through the hat factory (as well as wined and dined around Quito), we learned the family story.
Enzio Bigalli Corbani was born in October 1900 in Tuscany. He was the son of Giovanni Bigalli, a Lastra-Signa hatter who valued tradition and family. In 1926, Enzio ventured to South America in search of a new life, bringing with him the tradition of the raffia fiorentina hats. He later invested in becoming a fur felt, wool felt and paja toquilla (Panama) hat producer. To this day his family holds true to a life of hard work, honesty and quality hat making.
We are proud to bring you both Panama Hats and felt hats from Bigalli.