The perfect accessory to finish off Retro Clothing such as a stylish Mod suit or casual Indie ensemble, The 'Bowler Hat' is the epitome of distinguished style. An essential article of Mod Clothing that perfectly accentuates Retro V-necks over fully fashioned polo shirts and sta prest slacks. Capable of adding an extra debonair touch to a stylish 3 button Mod suit or even a Retro Sixties double breasted affair... but where did this icon of Mens fashion come from and what about it's Heritage and tradition?
The Bowler Hat was designed circa 1849 for a member of the Coke family, descendants from the Earl of Leicester, though the exact person is up for debate. Nowadays, it is generally acknowledged it was Edward Coke (and not William as first thought) who commissioned the design of the 'Bowler Hat'.
Expressing a desire for a practical form of headwear to protect horse riders and gamekeepers heads from low hanging branches, 'Coke' approached Lock and Co, a firm of Hatters, based in the St James' district of London. The requirements were set out that the hat needed to possess a low crown, would be close fitting and durable, a stark difference to the Top Hats the gamekeepers had worn previously.
In order to fulfil the order quickly and efficiently Lock and Co promptly took their specifications to esteemed hat makers Thomas and William Bowler of Southwark. Perfecting the design and with all parties happy, Coke reconvened with Locke and Co having arranged to pick up his new hat.
The story goes that on December 17th 1849 Coke rather than studiously inspecting the hat instead picked it up, threw it to the ground and twice stamped upon it to test it's durability and strength. The hat withstood the test and Coke happily paid 12 shillings for the hat. As was customary with Lock and Co for specialist orders, the hat was named the 'Coke', which is a name still used in some parts of Britain today (also known as Billy Cock or Billycoke - after William Coke - misguidedly or not).
Though the hat was naturally named 'Coke' after Edward (or William) Coke in the Locke and Co shop, when the hat went into mass production at rates of over 60,0000 a year, the hat became more familiarly known as the 'Bowler' after it's makers.
It seems strange that a hat that was originally designed for gamekeepers would eventually come to define the look of bankers and city workers, but then the design is so obviously befitting of smart formal attire.
In the US the 'Bowler Hat' would generally become know as the 'Derby Hat' from it's association with the famous Horse race - a choice of name that is actually very apt considering it's origins.
Locke and Co Hatters was established in 1676 and still occupy premise on St James' Street, London to this day.
As for the Bowler hat today, well it may well have seen it's peaks and troughs popularity, but it's overall appeal has never wained and the 'Bowler Hat' is now not just synonymous with City high fliers and Merchant bankers, but with a new Indie look, a style that borrows from suited and booted Mod culture and a Retro heritage Sunday Best ethic that helped dress a nation.
You can buy a faithful reproduction of the classic Retro 'Bowler Hat' online now at AtomRetro. Don't hang around, because these are sure to sell out fast. Classic Retro Mod Bowler Hat
...so, dont forget to check out the super stylish Bowler Hat now online at Atom Retro Clothing