Saturday, May 18, 2019

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Stetson and Resistol still made in the USA

by M. Satterfield


There is something romantic about a cowboy hat, originally designed out of necessity as our forebearers explored the vast and wild west, it quickly became a style icon inextricably linked to the American individualist... the cowboy, the adventure, the hero. Mainly thanks to the advent of the moving picture and the rise of western film stars in the 1920s. Hats have always been used as symbols in popular media imbuing their wearer with intent and reflecting personality traits from the tall crowed 10-Gallon hat worn by Hoss on Bonanza to Indiana Jones' famous fedora. So when the opportunity to tour the factory of two of America's most storied hat brands, Stetson and Resistol,  I jumped in the Suburban and headed to Dallas.


The Stetson legacy started in the early 1860s when John B. Stetson was traveling the Great American West, having grown up the son of a hatter in New Jersey, he fashioned his own fur felt hat while exploring the territory of Colorado. The story goes that a cowboy in Colorado saw Stetson in his wide-brimmed hat and paid him a $5 gold piece for it, and the first "cowboy hat" was sold.

Upon returning to the east Stetson opened his own hat company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he would release the first hat to bare his name, he called it "The Boss of the Plains." To sell his hats Stetson sent samples to retailers across the Southwest with a letter asking for a minimum order of a dozen hats, the hats were a hit and in less than a year, Stetson built his first factory. By 1886 Stetson was the largest hat maker in the world, expanding his US factory and opening factories abroad to meet demand. Stetson hats would go on to become the official hat of the US Calvary, Royal Candian Mounted Police, and some of the most famous cowboys and cowgirls in the world.


The Resistol brand was founded in Dallas Texas when in 1927 hatmaker Harry Rolnick and millionaire E.R. Byer launched the brand under the Resistol name some say it is because their hats could resist all weather, others say it was because of the unique headband design that made it resistant to sweat stains. Either way, the hats were a hit thanks to the brands focused on producing the highest quality and fashion-forward hats of their day.

With Resistol acquiring its own fur cutting and felt processing plant as well as a rough body production plant, allowing them to be one of the only manufacturers in the world to control the hat making process from raw material to finished product. The quality spoke for itself and Resistol hats could be seen on the likes of John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and even LBJ which helped solidify their reputation as one of the finest hat makers in the world.



Today Stetson and Resistol are still manufactured in the USA by Hatco Inc, using some of the original machines from the Resistol factory dating back to the early 1930s. Each hat passes through the hands of several employees, just as they did over 100 years ago. The company is still making their own felt hat bodies to this day, making them the last manufacturer in the USA to produce fur felt hats from start to finish. Straw hat bodies are made by artisans overseas, but the unfinished hats are shipped to the Garland, Texas factory to be shaped, trimmed, and finished by hand.

As the largest traditional hat maker in the world, Hatco Inc. produces hats under the Stetson, Resistol, Dobbs, Charlie Horse, and Wrangler Hat brands. If you happen to be in Garland you can swing by the factory outlet to pick up a hat direct, but to shop online or find a retailer near you visit Stetson.com or Resistol.com.

Enjoy more photos from the factory below:








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