There’s no denying the popularity and the versatility of the straw hat. Dating back to the eighteenth century this iconic accessory is an absolute fashion staple. Today, with the help of manufacturing advances, we can choose from lots of different styles, weaves, colours, stains and embellishments although the main part of the manufacturing process remains the same – every single straw hat produced is still individually woven by hand.
Once the hat bodies, or hoods, have been woven they are ready for BLOCKING. The BLOCKING process defines the style and size of each hat by using heated aluminium hat blocking machines which produce steam to form the shape of each hat. Hat blocks can be customised based on specific measurements , shapes and sizes. Once the hat bodies have been formed customised embellishments can be applied.
Trims and embellishments are outsourced to various vendors who specialise in each component, when they are completed they are sent to the factory to be applied to the hats. Crown bands and embellishments, badges, brim taping, under peak prints and internal crown bands are customised for each client. The manufacturing process from start to finish is quite labour intensive as a majority is done by hand.
Different countries and regions produce different kinds of straw and specialise in different weaves and craftsmanship. The Sauce works closely with various China based factories to manufacture custom made straw hats and bags. Seagrass, raffia, rush, wheat and paper straw are most commonly used, leather and grosgrain contrast can also be mixed into the weave to create a unique style.
SEAGRASS is the most cost effective and commonly used straw. It’s a natural fibre with a rustic finish and varies in colour with light shades of green and brown hues and can be dyed to match requested pantones. Seagrass is quite rigid because it is heavily dried which works well for fedora hats and wide brimmed surf and fishing hats.
RAFFIA is one of the more expensive straws and has a flexible and relaxed rustic feel that won’t crack when dry like seagrass. Raffia is generally hand woven in a crochet style knit, the tightness of the weave can be customised – the tighter the weave the more expensive, most high end hats are made with tightly woven raffia and can retail for over $200. Wire can be added to the inside edge of the brim to add shape and form and the wearer can manipulate the brim into a cowboy shape or flat brim.
PAPER STRAW has a softer hand feel compared to other natural straw fibres and can be easily DTM to pantone colours. Paper straw is more pliable than seagrass and can be moulded into a slouchy unconstructed sun hat or cowboy hat or fused into a more structured and stylish fedora fit.
PAPER BRAID is a tightly woven machine stitched horizontal weave that has a different appearance to standard paper straw. It’s soft and flexible nature works well for fedora hats, wide brim sun hats and cowboy hats. Wire can also be added to the inside edge of the brim to add shape and form. Paper braid can be dyed to match to requested pantones, contrasting weave can be woven through the crown to create a self fabric crown band.
JUTE is an ECO FRIENDLY natural material similar to thick string which is loosely woven into a light fabric. It has a similar appearance to hessian with a softer weave and hand feel creating a great surface for all over print treatments.
WHEAT STRAW is thick and coarse with a slight gloss finish and can be dyed to match to colour. It’s one of the most cost effective straws, it’s hard wearing when stiffened and is great for sombreros!
Here’s a round up of the different weaves and designs the Sauce has worked on for our custom made programs. Speak with our development team to determine the right straw for your designs and budget.