FINE BRAID "MILAN STRAW" COLLECTION

All the hats in this collection are made with the fine braid Milan Straw. Made from hand-braided wheat straw, hatters have mostly abandoned making the Milan in the last 50 years, due to the high cost of producing the braid. The Milan found on the market now is invariably made with hemp, synthetic fibers, or a very coarse version of the straw braid. The fine wheat braids are very rare and expensive, and only a handful of craftsmen are still weaving it in a small town in rural China.  Thankfully, during my travels in Florence, I was able to find suppliers that carry bundles of the stock of the original fine quality braid.    (see below for the History of the Milan)

All the hats in this collection are made with the fine braid Milan Straw. Made from hand-braided wheat straw, hatters have mostly abandoned making the Milan in the last 50 years, due to the high cost of producing the braid. The Milan found on the market now is invariably made with hemp, synthetic fibers, or a very coarse version of the straw braid. The fine wheat braids are very rare and expensive, and only a handful of craftsmen are still weaving it in a small town in rural China.  Thankfully, during my travels in Florence, I was able to find suppliers that carry bundles of the stock of the original fine quality braid.    (see below for the History of the Milan)

THE CHLOE

The "Chloe" is a hand-shaped crown: a technique learned in Hamburg.  


MULTI-COLORED STYLES

The Multi-colored hues are hand sewn together, to create a unique, one of a kind look.   

The History of the Milan Braid.
"The Milan braid is produced from a special type of wheat that grows where soil conditions contain a high percentage of sand. In the 1800s, it was originally called the ‘Dunstable Twist’, after the region in England which yielded the optimal soil. The weave was also produced in Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Japan and China, but production in these locales dwindled as China became the strongest supplier. By the 1920s, production was essentially limited to China. But in the 1950s, to circumvent the U.S.-placed embargo on Chinese goods, the Chinese braid was sent to Italy, where it was sewn together into ‘hat bodies’, marked ‘made in Italy’, then shipped to the U.S. The general belief is that these hats, shipped from Milan, led U.S. hatters to call these hats ‘My-lans’, hence the name and mispronounciation used today.
Contrary to this belief, the Milan got its name much earlier, when Italian imitations of ‘Dunstable Twist’ arrived in Britain in the mid-1800’s. In 1867, the first Chinese versions were imported to Britain, by then referred to as ‘Milan’."   Source: Optimo Hats