Handmade toquilla hats are originally from Ecuador.
Panama hats first gained popularity in 1906. United States president Theodore Roosevelt had worn one of these hats—actually made in Ecuador, despite the name—when visiting the construction site of the Panama Canal, helping cement the Panama hat as an internationally recognized symbol of casual elegance.
Panama hats are the product of artisanal techniques passed down through the generations, representing extraordinary cultural heritage.
RONNEL hatmakers weave 12 to 35 straws per inch to produce handmade pieces of the highest quality.
RONNEL is proud to work with the Ecuadorian artisans to bring their straw hats to the international fashion world while highlighting the traditional art of this Ecuadorian community.
Traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat.
Inscribed in 2012 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
The toquilla straw hat is woven from fibres from a palm tree characteristic of the Ecuadorian coast. Coastal farmers cultivate the toquillales and harvest the stems before separating the fibre from the green outer skin. This is boiled to remove chlorophyll and dried for subsequent bleaching with sulfur over a wood fire. Weavers take this raw material and begin weaving the crown and the brim of the hat. Weaving a hat can take from one day to eight months, depending on the quality and finesse. In Pile, a costal community, weavers produce extra fine hats that require specific climatic conditions and involve an exact number of points in each row of weaving. The process is completed by washing, bleaching, moulding, ironing and pressing. The weavers are mostly peasant families and transmission of weaving techniques occurs within the home from an early age through observation and imitation. The skills and knowledge enfold a complex and dynamic social fabric including traditional techniques of cultivation and processing, forms of social organization, and use of the hat as part of everyday clothing and in festive contexts. It is a distinctive mark of the communities perpetrating this tradition and part of their cultural heritage.
The best Panama Hats in the world.
Since 1630 Ecuadorian hats have covered many famous heads including Napoleon, Winston Churchill, Nikita Khrushchev, Paul Newman, Sean Connery, Mr. & Mrs. Harrison Ford, King George V of England, King Gustavus V of Sweden, President Herbert Hoover, Whitney Houston, Mr. & Mrs. Michael Jordon, President John F. Kennedy, Peter O’Toole, Arnold Schwartzenegger, President Harry S Truman, Mike Tyson, Sigourney Weaver, President Teddy Roosevelt and others.