The History of Stetson Hats
Explore the rich history and enduring legacy of one of the world’s most renowned hat brands – Stetson
The Timeless Legacy of Stetson Hats
Born from the dreams of John B. Stetson in 1865, this iconic brand has come to symbolize the rugged, innovative spirit of the American West. Join us as we delve into the origins of Stetson hats, from the legendary “Boss of the Plains” hat to the modern styles we see today.
Discover how this illustrious hat maker has navigated over 130 years in the industry, continuously setting standards for quality, durability, and style. A Stetson isn’t just a hat, it’s a piece of American history that will continue to grace heads and shape the future of hat fashion indefinitely.
The Legacy and Quality of Stetson Hats
In 1865, with $100, John B. Stetson rented a small room, bought the tools he needed, purchased $10 worth of fur, and the John B. Stetson Hat Company was born. A year later, the “Hat of the West” or the now-famous “Boss of the Plains” hat was created, and the name Stetson was on its way to becoming synonymous with quality, durability, innovation, and beauty.
John B. Stetson experienced trying times in his life, but after it all, he relied on the one thing he did exceptionally well: making hats. He was trained by his father, a master hatter, and applied his skills and knowledge to a trade that, at the time, was not held in high regard.
The longevity and history of the John B. Stetson Company are based on innovation and quality! John B. Stetson led the hat industry his entire career by designing new hat styles for fashion and function. When it came to quality, it was his creed, and for the past 130 years, it has so stamped the product that the name and the word are synonymous.
Today, the Stetson hat factory in Garland, Texas is one of the largest in the country and produces a line of hats in hundreds of different styles and colors. In spite of this size, however, classic styling and premium quality remain as the driving forces behind each and every hat. As a result, Stetson hats are the most well-known hats in the world. Wherever and whenever hats are discussed, Stetson will be mentioned.
Stetson created a rugged hat for himself made from thick beaver felt while panning for gold in Colorado. According to legend, Stetson invented the hat while on a hunting trip, showing his companions how he could make cloth out of fur without tanning. Fur felt hats are lighter, they maintain their shape, and withstand weather and renovation better.
Stetson made an unusually large hat from felt he made from hides collected on the trip, and wore the hat for the remainder of the expedition. Although initially worn as a joke, Stetson soon grew fond of the hat for its ability to protect him from the elements. It had a wide brim, a high crown to keep an insulating pocket of air on the head, and was used to carry water.
As their travels continued, a cowboy is said to have seen J.B. Stetson and his unusual hat, rode up, tried the hat on for himself, and paid Stetson for it with a five-dollar gold piece, riding off with the first western Stetson hat on his head.
Boss of the Plains Hat
Stetson’s western adventures came to an end in 1865. Stetson, now 35 years old and in better health, returned east and established his own hat firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which produced high-quality hats for outdoor use. After producing some initial designs based on popular styles of the day, Stetson decided to create a hat based on his experiences in the American West, which he called the “Boss of the Plains”.
The original “Boss”, manufactured by Stetson in 1865, was flat-brimmed, had a straight-sided crown, with rounded corners. These lightweight, waterproof hats were natural in color, with four-inch crowns and brims. A plain hatband was fitted to adjust head size. The sweatband bore John B. Stetson’s name.
A Symbol of the American West
Stetson produced a very expensive hat. The cowboy riding the range wearing that “Boss of the Plains” hat showed the world that he was doing well. “Within a decade, the name John B. Stetson became synonymous with the word ‘hat’ in every corner and culture of the West.”
The shape of the hat’s crown and brim were often modified by the wearer for fashion and to protect against weather by being softened in hot steam, shaped, and allowed to dry and cool. Felt tends to retain the shape in which it dries. The high-crowned, wide-brimmed, soft-felt western hats that followed are intimately associated with the American cowboy image.
Stetson is the standard in hats, the essence of the spirit of the West, and an icon of everyday American lifestyle. Because of its authentic American heritage, Stetson remains a part of history and, for the same reason, will continue into the future.
Stetson, it’s not just a hat, it’s the hat.
Stetson Hats available from Bernard Hats: