All Caps

Hats are more top of mind than ever
By Poormina Apte

What’s the go-to, sizzling hot, must-have accessory these days? The answer: Hats. On fashion catwalks, in paparazzi circuits and at everyday occasions, this fashion statement is making headlines — and turning heads.

What’s more, a striking confluence of pop culture trends and influencers — from Coachella and Boho Chic to Downton Abbey and even Princess Kate Middleton — means a sumptuous array of bold or demure styles to satisfy even the most discerning fashionistas.

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Top of the line
Sure, you would like to stock hats but the options are endless: wide-brim, narrow-brim, fedora, cloche, and materials from raffia to suede. Where to begin and how do you know what your customers will like? First rule of thumb: listen to your rep and buy best sellers, advises John Callanan, senior designer and corporate sales at Dorfman Pacific. “Keep away from overpriced, crazy hats until you get a better feel for what you can sell,” he says. Callanan reminds retailers that the sales window on seasonal hats is very short so it’s a better idea to start by sticking with seasonless offerings.

Dolores Page, marketing manager at San Diego Hat Company points out that wide-brim hats that offer sun protection are staples. In fashion, “wide-brim wool felts and fashion fedoras are driving business,” she says.

Start with tonal colors, advises Christy Currie, regional sales manager at Helen Kaminski. “Go with basic colors, medium-sized brim, maybe a classic fedora,” she says, adding that the company’s rollable hats that are easy to pack give customers another reason to buy.

Hat tricks
Not much room to stock hats? Not a problem. “Use the hats to pull looks together in your display window,” suggests Callanan. Along similar lines, Currie recommends creating a head-to-toe statement by throwing some matching jewelry and a beautiful scarf.

Most vendors provide hat stands that don’t take up too much room. Having three hat stands at different heights adds a touch of drama and dimension to the display without subtracting too much floor space, Currie explains.

“Always make sure the hat rack is next to a mirror,” Callanan advises, “the first thing a customer does after putting on a hat is look for a mirror.”

Soaring sales
To have hats sell like hotcakes, wear one yourself and have fun with it. “Never, never sell a hat that does not suit the wearer,” Callanan says, “learn to guide your customer to a complimentary hat style.” Other recommendations: host a Derby wine and cheese night or have an Easter bonnet event.

Some trends to keep an eye on as per Callanan: broad brim fedoras aka panamas. Knit safaris. Knit beanies with fur boggles for winter. The bottom line is whether made from raffia or wool felt, a narrow or wide brim, hats are an accessory that’s hard to top and even better, they offer protection from the elements.

As Currie says: “hats make a high-impact fashion statement. Customers are beginning to realize that putting on a hat just automatically elevates your wardrobe.”

For more information: Dorfman Pacific –, 800.367.3626; Helen Kaminski –, 212.398.3434; San Diego Hat Company –, 888.868.0588.

Images courtesy of Dorfman Pacific, San Diego Hat Company and Helen Kaminski.

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