Panama hat quality and grade

The quality of a Panama hat is determined by the number of crossing points that exist between the straw breezes in a square inch.
Detail of four different grades of quality in handmade Panama hats

Fine and extra fine Panama hats are hand-woven without the aid of machines or looms.

There are as many measurement standards of Montecristi's fine hats as there are intermediaries and merchants who are dedicated to it. In my humble opinion, this is because everyone tries to explain in some way why the hats he sells are good and therefore expensive. I follow the more traditional method and apply a variant that helps me to determine not only the fineness, but also the quality of the execution of the weave. 

Once the hat is finished, I take my thread counter and determine softly with a template a square inch on the top of the hat, in that chosen inch I count in a linear way how many crossing points (intersections) there are between the straws. I repeat this operation in three points of the top and the average is what we call the grade of the hat. Therefore, a grade 50 hat has such a tight weave that the weft of the straws holds 50 crossing points in a space of 2.5 centimeters. Additionally, in the same measurements I take an analogous count in the vertical sense. So in each sample I take the two measurements and multiply them. In the case of the previous example, we gave grade 50 in horizontal and 46 in vertical, in total are 2300 points, so we are talking about a very high quality hat. 

The technique used by Domingo Carranza, the crab, is native to Pile. It starts at a point and allows you to reach a grade 63 fineness
Detail of a thread counter on the crab, origin of the Panama hat

Domingo Carranza weaves hats of such fineness that it is necessary to use magnifying glasses to appreciate the beauty of these crafts. Panama hats woven by Domingo seem made of fabrics rather than fragile straws.
Detail of a coin to contextualize the fine weave of a Panama hat

It is very important to point out that a fine weave requires a straw preparation, a mastery of the technique and some deadlines, which guarantee a toquilla straw hat of supreme quality. The crafts are not perfect nor do they pretend to be, their own nature makes them beautifully imperfect, but the skill of a craftsman with experience and meticulousness, is evident when examining a piece where the weave is uniform, where the size of the straws is even, where the color of the straws has been chosen to be a coordinate set. All these variants that the expert craftsman studies and observes, allow to reach quotas of quality that turn some of these extra fine toquilla straw hats into museum pieces. 

Taking into account this long and delicate process, we have that a single craftsman can dedicate to a hat of this level, between 6 and 12 months of daily and exclusive work. Therefore, the value of these jewels has to be according to the absolute dedication. One more reason to make a fair deal and buy directly from the hands of the artisan. With this firm purpose, we try to jump all these intermediaries, trying that the fair prices of these deals, arrive directly in the hands of the craftsman, who is the usually worst treated part in this equation. The money used to stay in the pockets of shops, intermediaries and merchants who often do not know that a hat can be the annual livelihood of 2 or even 3 families. 

  • Quality and grade Cuenca
  • Quality and grade Montecristi
  • Quality and grade Montecristi Fine
  • Quality and grade Súper Fine
  • Quality and grade Montecristi Extra Fine
  • Quality and grade MoMA
  • Quality and grade Montecristi Jewel

When choosing the model of your Panama hat choose the quality in which you want it