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5 Reasons Panama Hats Can Be Expensive

By Taylor James


Updated on

Comfortable and lightweight, Panama hats are fantastic accessories for the modern gentleman in summer. A good quality Panama Hat is woven out of the finest straw by the best artisans who can weave the straw tightly and finely. While you can buy Panama hats at different prices, a good Panama hat can be expensive, and here’s why. 

The 5 reasons Panama hats can be expensive include:

  1. Size of the hat
  2. Color of the straw
  3. Weaves per inch (WPI)
  4. Evenness of the weave
  5. Quality of craftsmanship

In this article, I’ll explain why these factors can bump up the price of the Panama hat you’re eyeing and how they reflect the quality of the piece. 

1. Size of the Hat

This one is pretty straightforward. Panama hats are handcrafted, so the size of the hat makes a difference to the amount of time, effort, and resources required to make it. 

When an artisan has to make a bigger hat than average, they’ll have to find and prepare more of the toquilla straw, then weave that into a hat that will take more time and energy. Naturally, this will influence the selling price of the hat and make it more expensive.

Panama hats
@Maccaholic via Twenty20

2. Color of the Straw

While many manufacturers have taken to bleaching the straw in peroxide to attain a bright white color on the Panama hat, this is not the traditional process. Additionally, peroxide can weaken the straw and ruin the strength of the weave. 

The more expensive Montecristi weave hats are bleached with sulfur, which does not damage the straw. 

Regular hats which are not bleached usually have gray or reddish bits of straw through them. However, these irregularities do not bring the price down, because they are considered a natural aspect of a handcrafted product. 

3. Weaves per Inch (WPI)

An important qualifier of the grades of Panama hats available means that weaves per inch refers to the tightness of the weave. This method calculates how much straw has been used and how well it has been incorporated into the hat. 

The higher the WPI of a hat, the more expensive it is. 

4. Evenness of the Weave

This refers both to the thickness of the straw and the smoothness of the weave. 

Just like a well-knitted or woven sweater, a well-woven hat will have more or less even lines of straw. If a hat is expensive, it is likely because the thickness of the woven straw in the hat is more or less even, and there are no gaps in the weave, no bumps, or other irregularities. 

This is not to say that good hats have no irregularities. 

As handcrafted products, Panama hats are expected to have minor bumps, gaps, or uneven thicknesses in the straw. But if a Panama hat is especially expensive, it will be because of how even the weave is. 

5. Quality of Craftsmanship

The quality of craftsmanship refers to the final shaping and finishing of the hat. 

The better and more experienced the craftsman, the better the final shape of the hat will be. The weave will be neatly rounded off, and the hat will sit comfortably on your head. 

Naturally, the better the craftsmanship, the more expensive the hat will be.

About Taylor James

As Philip Treacy once said, “How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about.” And on that note, I hope you enjoy your hats and find the site useful. Learn more about Hat Realm's Editorial Process.