Stetson sets the standard in Hats it practically
means Hats. The brand embodies spirit of the West and is an
icon of quality and style the World over. Because of its
authentic and rich heritage, Stetson has and will always be a
part of American history.
It was all started by a young American entrepreneur in the mid
1800s named John B. Stetson and this is his story
If there was one thing John B. Stetson hated, it was the
patter of raindrops on his head. He knew the rain and East
coast cold weather would make his tuberculosis worse. In 1859,
on doctors advice, the 24 year-old John B. moved out West.
By the 1860s, John B. was panning for gold in Colorado but
found the rugged life made him sicker. When he was trapped in
the mountains and threatened by sudden rainstorms and howling
winds, ordinary clothing didn't keep him warm and dry. He knew
he had to act fast to protect himself or die so he hurled
himself into the task. He noticed how beavers pelts repelled
water in streams, so he trapped a few and created a thick fur
felt that he used to make a tent, which kept him warm and dry.
John B., who came from a family of Hat makers, then decided to
try using the fur felt for a Hat. His father, who taught John
B. how to make felt in the first place, also taught him that a
big air pocket between the top of the head and the Hat s crown
created a cushion of warm air that kept the head warm. Outdoor
western living taught him that a Hat had to have a wide brim
to keep out the elements. It also taught him that hauling
water was vital on the frontier, so he made the inside lining
of his Hat waterproof. This meant it could double as a water
bucket if needed. (Thats how Stetson Hats got nicknamed the
10 gallon Hats even though the original never held more than
a half-gallon.) John B. pulled all these elements together in
his design. The finished product had an unusual 6-inch high
crown and a 7-inch brim. The first famous Stetson Hat had been
The industrious Mr. Stetson decided to manufacture and sell
his Hat after a mule driver paid him a $5 gold piece for the
Hat right off his head.
John B.s success didn't happen overnight. In 1865, he
returned to his native Philadelphia to open his first Hat
factory. He only had $100 in capital so he rented a tiny room
and bought tools and $10 worth of fur to make felt cloth. He
was the sole employee.
But he wore his Hat everywhere, knowing it would spark
interest. Within a year, he was adding workers and making Hats
in quantity. Stetson paid close attention to details. He made
sure people knew that he used only the best materials. The
name Stetson was stamped with a long lasting 14-karat gold
leaf on the inside hatband.
The Hats were a big hit in the thinly populated West, where
taking a beating was a requirement for clothes (and for
people). The Stetson was heavy enough to knock a man down in a
fight. In a celebrated incident, a Stetson kept its shape
after being hit by 20 bullets. The rugged individualism of the
West was perfectly represented by a Hat that could be shaped
differently by each wearer -- a punched-in crown, a bended
brim, a braided leather band were all different ways for to
make a Stetson ones own.
Big-city Easterners scoffed at these Hats at first, unaware of
their practicality. But Stetson didnt give up. He knew that
as sales grew, word would circulate about his product. He was
right. Variations of the Hat eventually appealed to city
slickers and to cowboys alike. It was a Hat for all seasons;
it catered to whatever position in life you had whether you
were rich or poor, whether it was dress, work or play.
By 1886, Stetson owned the worlds biggest Hat factory in
Philadelphia and employed nearly 4,000 workers. The factory
was putting out about 2 million Hats a year by 1906. John B.
transformed Hat making from a manual to a mechanized industry.
He introduced iron cutting and shaping machines, improving
quality control. He was also among the first U.S. tycoons to
offer benefits to reward workers for hard work. He dispensed
free health care to employees and gave shares in his company
to valued workers. As a philanthropist, he founded Stetson
University in Deland, Florida, and built a Philadelphia
The original Hat that John B. had named the The Boss of the
Plains became the symbol of the American West and helped turn
the cowboy into an American icon. In Hollywood films Stetsons
became symbols of good (white Hats) and evil (black Hats). But
in the end John B. was not alone concerned with making better
Hats; he was interested equally in making better men.
("Etiquette," Emily Post, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1922 and
Some of these tips may seem slightly outdated, but whether you
are looking for the proper way to wear your Hat, or just
want to read some interesting tidbits of Hat history, here are
some guidelines from the mistress of etiquette, Emily Post.
WHEN A GENTLEMAN TAKES OFF HIS HAT
A gentleman takes off his Hat and holds it in his hand when a
lady enters the elevator in which he is a passenger, but he
puts it back on again in the corridor. A public corridor is
like the street, but an elevator is suggestive of a room, and
a gentleman does not keep his Hat on in the presence of ladies
in a house.
This is the rule in elevators in hotels, clubs and apartments.
In office buildings and stores the elevator is considered as
public a place as the corridor. What is more, the elevators in
such business structures are usually so crowded that the only
room for a man's Hat is on his head.
When a gentleman stops to speak to a lady of his acquaintance
in the street, he takes his Hat off with his left hand,
leaving his right free to shake hands, or he takes it off with
his right and transfers it to his left. If he has a stick, he
puts his stick in his left hand, and gives her his right. If
they walk ahead together, he puts his Hat on; but while he is
standing in the street talking to her, he should remain
Hatless. There is no rudeness greater than for him to stand
talking to a lady with his Hat on, and a cigar or cigarette in
WHEN A GENTLEMAN LIFTS HIS HAT
Lifting the Hat is a conventional gesture of politeness shown
to strangers only, not to be confused with bowing, which is a
gesture used to acquaintances and friends. In lifting his Hat,
a gentleman merely lifts it slightly off his forehead and
replaces it; he does not smile or bow, nor does he even look
at the object of his courtesy. No gentleman ever subjects a
lady to his scrutiny or his apparent observation.
If a lady drops her glove, a gentleman should pick it up,
hurry ahead of her on no account nudge her offer the glove
to her and say: I think you dropped this!. The lady replies:
Thank you. The gentleman should then lift his Hat and turn
If he passes a lady in a narrow space, so that he blocks her
way or in any manner obtrudes upon her, he lifts his Hat as he
If he is on a street car which is very crowded, when he wishes
to leave it and a lady is directly in his way, he asks: May I
get through, please? As she makes room for him to pass, he
lifts his Hat and says: Thank you!
If he is in the company of a lady anywhere in public, he lifts
his Hat to a man who offers her a seat, or who picks up
something she has dropped or shows her any other civility.
He lifts his Hat if he asks a woman or an old gentleman a
question, and always, if, when walking on the street with
either a lady or another man, his companion bows to another
In other words, a gentleman lifts his Hat whenever he says
Excuse me, Thank you, or speaks to or is spoken to by a
lady, or by an older gentleman. And no gentleman ever keeps a
pipe, cigar or cigarette in his mouth when he lifts his Hat,
takes it off, or bows.
THE INFORMAL BOW
In bowing on the street, a gentleman should never takes his
Hat off with a flourish, nor should he sweep it down to his
knee; nor is it graceful to bow by pulling the Hat over the
face as though examining the lining. The correct bow, when
wearing a high Hat, or derby, is to lift it by holding the
brim directly in front, take it off merely high enough to
escape the head easily, bring it a few inches forward, the
back somewhat up, the front down, and put in on again. To a
very old lady or gentleman, to show adequate respect, a
sweeping bow is sometimes made by a somewhat exaggerated
circular motion downward to perhaps the level of the waist, so
that the Hat's position is upside down. If a man is wearing a
soft Hat he takes it by the crown instead of the brim, lifts
it slightly off his head and puts in on again.
AT THE OPERA, THE THEATER AND OTHER PUBLIC GATHERINGS
In walking about in the foyer of the opera house, a gentleman
leaves his coat in the box or in his orchestra chair but
he always wears his high Hat. The collapsible Hat is for use
in the seats rather than in the boxes, but it can be worn
perfectly well by a guest in the latter if he hasnt a silk
If you have any modern day questions relating to etiquette
wearing your Stetson, contact us and well try to get you an