Old World Charm

The Akubra Federation

Christmas came a little bit late here in Japan for me, as I just received my one and only “real” Christmas gift today, and it is a beauty. Those familiar with me know that I have a thing for hats, and own more than a couple; a captains hat for sailing, a Russian style fur hat for the winter, and a fedora for almost every other day. My fedora has been getting a little worn out as of late, a Stetson purchased many years ago from the now deceased Mr. John, or Mr. John’s Hats in Edmonton. It’s been soaked, flattened, run over by cars, and has been a good travelling companion as any good hat should be.

Well as of today, it’s time for my old Stetson to retire, and welcome a new member into my chappeau family. All the way from Australia, welcome the Akubra Federation. The Akubra in many ways, is a step up from the Stetson. It is “constructed of pure rabbit fur, blended and processed to make an extremely stable and strong felt made to perform in the Australian outback.” Aside from the higher quality felt, small touches such as a velvet lining, and actual leather sweatband make it a nearly perfect hat.

So here’s what makes it a perfect hat: it comes to you unbashed. What this means, is that instead of the dents in the top being pre-formed at the factory, your hat comes with a domed top, not unlike a bowler. Your job when you take the hat out of the box is to dent and form the top and brim of your hat to your particular hat. This makes your hat unique, and wonderfully personal; something you have not only invested your hard earned dollars into, but also something you have had a hand in the creation of. As the pamphlet that they send with the hat says, “Most hats from earlier years were sold as open crown hats and the owners were proud to put their own individual bash into the hat.”

It is this aspect of the hat that takes it from simply being a commodity item, bought off the rack, and gives it meaning. It’s the difference between going to Moores for a suit, or going to Saville row for bespoke tailoring; between buying a new Harley Davidson, and restoring an old motorcycle yourself from the ground up. Perhaps this is the reason that certain people still grind their own coffee, brew their own beer, or write a blog. It may even just be an extension of the placebo effect, but people want a connection with the things in their life.

I want more things in my life to have meaning. I think I’ll go buy that coffee grinder…