The wedding of the decade might have come and gone but it brought with a trend that has seen resurrection world-wide. The hat is back. And this time you can see its impact in India too.
Forget the tennis cap or the cowboy hat (which are now being sold at traffic signals), we’re talking about fedoras, wide-brims and the gangsta hats that are now the rage, especially after the success of the film Zindagi na milegi dobara where two out of the three lead actors were seen sporting hats both on and off screen.
“Abhay Deol wore a number of hats for promos of the film. Farhan Akhtar’s fedora hat in the movie has sky rocketed the sales of hats,” says Delhi-based stylist Vishal Mahtani. “Hats get you noticed. It’s like the eye is drawn to what’s on top of the head and everyone has something to say about it.”
Filmmaker Abhishek Pandit cannot agree more. Between his brother and him they own at least a hundred hats and are often seen wearing them at parties.
“Name the hat and I can tell you the colours that we own it in. It’s the ultimate accessory and it’s not an expensive buy,” says this 28-year-old.“Matt Bomer (Neal Caffery) of the series White Collar is my style icon so I try and copy his look whenever I can. Apart from that, whichever part of the world we go, we definitely pick up a funky headgear ranging from a police hat, bunny ears and even the bowler hat.”
So what’s the most popular so far? According to Mahtani it’s the fedora — a felt hat which has a crease in the centre and a brim that goes down the crown of the head. He adds that the fedora is to modern times as the top hat was to the Victorian and the popularity stems from the fact that it can be worn with either formal or casual clothes upping the style quotient immediately.
Which is perhaps why at high street brands such as Aldo, Mango, Zara and Promod, the hats are available in a range of colours such as reds, beige and neutrals and are up for grabs the moment they hit the shelves. “Loyal customers of the brands, especially in the age group of 14-25 years look forward to the new trends and pick them up almost immediately,” says the Aldo spokesperson. “Also since hats are usually displayed on shop window, we attract a lot of walk-ins.”
But the real reason that hats have become this popular, says hat/headpiece designer Shilpa Chavan, whose hats start at Rs 4,500 and above is the fact that the hats have become so easily accessible. “Forget high street, export-surplus and shops that source from China are flooded with hats. These ready-made hats is what’s making its way to heads,” says the designer who operates under the brand Little Shilpa.
“But you’ve got to be careful of the quality. A product might claim it’s felt where as it could be a cheap rip off.”
Apart from a handful of hat designers in India such as Shilpa and Delna Poonawalla, for funkier headpieces most people resort to ordering their head gear online.
Says graphic designer Niyati Bose, “I buy hats off ebay. That’s the only place I’ve found hats like the pillbox or a fancy old-fashioned bonnet. Obviously people buy hats for a certain occasion and don’t know what to do with them so decide to sell it afterwards.”