Bowler Hat

Bowler Hat

In the early 20th century, men's hats were an important element of everyday wear. They could signify status, be a fashion statement or were sometimes simply worn for warmth.

James and George Lock of James Lock and Co in London designed the Bowler hat in the 1850s. William Coke, a Norfolk landowner, asked the firm to create a hard hat suitable for protecting the wearer's head from branches when riding. Lock's traditionally named their hats after the customers who commissioned them, and Coke hats are still available. Locks sent its designs to the Bowler Brothers for manufacturing, and thus the hats came to be known as Bowlers.

Bowler hats are made of felt stiffened with Shellac and moulded into a bowl-shaped crown. The hats have a narrow, curved brim and are trimmed with ribbon.

The hat was immediately popular because it was seen to be less formal than the top hat, which was traditionally associated with the upper classes, and more respectable than the casual soft felt hats worn by the lower middle classes. They were so popular that 'everyman' was wearing one, from gamekeepers and landowners to city workers and coach drivers.

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