We come to one of the most controversial points in the history of fine hats. Some of the recurring questions I get are, how come Panama hats are from Ecuador? Aren't hats woven in Panama? Are all Panama hats the same?
Well, for no one is more painful than for an artisan from Pile in the Montecristi canton to hear that his art and his hats are known all over the world under the name of Panama. It is well known that this name was given to our treasure, by the journalists who covered President Roosevelt's visit to the works of the inter-oceanic canal in Panama, when he arrived where the workers were waiting for him, wearing a beautiful hat with a black ribbon and whose photograph was front page of hundreds of media around the world. From then on, everyone mistakenly assumed that this hat was a typical product of the country the president was visiting.
The great business and incredible revolution that was for Ecuador the export of hundreds of thousands of hats destined to the workers of the channel, meant at the same time the loss of identity of the hat, like an Ecuadorian artisan icon. But thus is chance, at that moment nobody thought of the incredible repercussions of this mistake. Thus we find ourselves in the modern era of the hat, where claiming authorship was only partially possible from 2013 when UNESCO recognizes the toquilla straw fine hat woven in Ecuador, as intangible heritage of humanity.
Today, I believe that little more can be done given an external factor, which for me was totally new but definitive. It turns out that the algorithms that Google, Yahoo, Bing among others, use to index websites and in general, to qualify the quality of all the content generated on the Internet, recognize our hat with a single keyword that is Panama Hat. It doesn't give a damn if Pile's hats are the finest of the finest, if the supreme quality has to be differentiated from a paper hat made industrially in a province of China with the lowest labour prices on the planet.
For me, that I’ve been weaving since I was a child and my family has been weaving for more than a hundred years, nobody can argue that the best hats in the world are called Montecristi Fine Hats, woven in Pile. Unfortunately, the system forces me to call it the Panama Hat. That's why I try to explain all our history in the most detailed way on this website so that everyone who loves these hats can distinguish between the common and the absolutely exceptional.
This is my humble opinion of what fine hats should be called. Now that you know the history you know what the real origin is.