Six Century Tradition of Hatmaking

Fascinating look at one of the last shops in Cairo, where Nasser Abd El-Baset has been making fez hats for over 40 years in a process that dates back more than six centuries.

This year in Great Britain, hat making was added to the list of endangered crafts. This reality called me to action- those of us who love hats need to support the industry in practical ways in order to preserve it. For me, this was joining in the formation of The British Millinery Association (and giving up my blogging anonymity!) and, last week, ordering my first bespoke hat.

What tangible things can we each do to save the craft  and tradition of hatmaking from falling into extinction?

Images from Getty as indicated  

5 thoughts on “Six Century Tradition of Hatmaking

  1. What a fascinating video! I can’t believe how quickly Nasser works.

    Hoping you and Jake B. will both share more about your bespoke hats!

  2. 1. Hat Queen, thanks for the fascinating video – I love seeing how things are made, and the fez is no exception! This millinery style could be added to the glossary of hat types – I immediately thought of quite a number of current Royal heads sporting such a fashion statement. Mrs. Jimbo has several similarly shaped hats, one is a black fez with a leopard pattern on its flat top – still very beautiful on her.
    2. The answer to your question is obvious: as you have said before, “go out and buy a hat.” Where I live, unfortunately the only time women wear hats is when it’s bitterly cold outside, or to a sporting event. It’s then that the knitted crafty, and casual ball caps appear. Rest assured, I’m doing what I can in my own little corner of the world to support this dying art.
    3. HQ, PLEASE share your new purchase with us. And when you do, explain the difference between “bespoke” and “custom-made.” Is “bespoke” one-of-a-kind, nowhere else to be found?
    PS I find it amazing that hat making is now an endangered craft in Great Britain, where everyone consistently steps out looking like a million bucks.

    • “Bespoke’ and ‘custom’ are synonymous, I believe the former more commonly used in the UK and the latter, in North America.

      My hat is in process and while I’m very excited (it’s my Christmas present from my lovely husband), I must warn you all it’s not an Ascot showstopper but something much more practical!

  3. I saw this video right after it came out. Super fascinating how they make fezes in comparison to other hats, and I am glad to see Nasser’s son Mohammad.

    I am beyond grateful for this blog’s support of hats throughout the years! There has been a real education for me here in addition to what I already knew. There are so many things I could say about helping keep hat and hatmaking alive, but ultimately if you don’t buy and wear them, neither will others (let’s institute some good peer pressure for hats haha!).

    Are we going to hear more about your first bespoke hat, HatQueen? I now have 2 custom hats in my collection and would love to hear more about why and how you got yours! 😀

    • I’ve always wanted Royal Hats to be about the hats (and never about me!). However, I think there’s something important seeing everyday hats and how we can include them more in our lives. I feel the start of a new series, Jake. I’ll share about my hat if you will….!

      Would any anyone else be willing to share about hats you have commissioned or purchased directly from a milliner?

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