Hats off to the Stetson X Swanepoel collection


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There’s nothing the hipster demographic likes to do more than flog a trend to death, and in recent weeks I’ve found myself fighting the urge to run pell-mell through the streets of Echo Park, knocking stingy-brim fedoras off every third head. (My one exception are the classy-looking valet parking attendants at Rick Bayless’ new Red O restaurant on Melrose -- somehow those guys make it work.)

But on Monday came a glimmer of hope that someday the under-70 crowd could once again embrace a humble chapeau beyond the ball cap or the stingy brim. That was when the announcement landed in my e-mail inbox that the collaboration between Stetson (the company whose namesake founder John Batterson Stetson pretty much invented the cowboy hat) and milliner Albertus Swanepoel (a 2009 nominee for the Swarovski CFDA Accessory Award and a hat designer whose work is frequently used on the runways of New York) was due to hit stores this month.


The fall 2010 Albertus Swanepoel for Stetson collection consists of 14 limited-edition luxe lids that range in price from the $115 Verbier -- it’s the one that looks like a plaid pom-pommed fez in the above photo -- to the $600 Singita (the feather cap at top), which is named after an African game reserve (Swanepoel

originally hails from South Africa).

The whole collection has a sense of humor about it, which I can appreciate; since, as a follicularly challenged fellow well below retirement age, I’m often at a loss for something to guard against the sun, and I recently realized that my favorite Panama hat from Borsalino made me feel as serious as the guy standing next to Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot by Jack Ruby in Bob Jackson’s famous photograph. Among the styles that caught my eye were the ‘Holmes’ (inspired by the bowler donned by Robert Downey Jr. in ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and the ‘Pablo’ (a homage to Picasso).

Several styles are available for pre-order now from Hartford York (for September delivery) and are expected to hit Barneys New York locations and specialty retailers soon.

Of course if you really want to make a statement, you should try to get the hat that started it all -- a Stetson Boss of the Plains. When my brother and I were kids, my uncle came to visit from the Midwest with a glorious, wide-brimmed brown beaver felt Stetson ’10-gallon hat’ for each of us. That was more than 30 years ago, and when I was recently back in Vermont, I became reacquainted with mine again; when I put it on and looked in a mirror, I realized I’d finally grown into the immense cowboy hat.

I think on my next trip I’ll bring it back to L.A. It’ll be the perfect thing to wear when I mosey over to Echo Park to do some fedora wrangling.

-- Adam Tschorn bottom, inspired by artist Pablo Picasso), $200. Credit: Stetson