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  • [music]

  • >>How Panama Hats are Made. A Cuencan Tradition.

  • How we go from the very special and unique toquilla straw to the finished, fine Panama

  • hat. This toquilla straw is found only in Ecuador in the foothills of the Andes Mountains

  • where the trade winds of the Pacific Ocean mixed with the down-force winds of the Andes

  • Mountains create the ideal growing conditions. The straw is warehoused after it has been

  • peeled, opened, cooked, and dried. Here you see the countryside of Cuenca, a city of half

  • a million people and an elevation of nearly 9000 feet.

  • Here we are in the town of San Martín de Bushio. The weaver is buying and inspecting

  • the straw, and then the weaving begins. Some hats take only a day. Other hats of higher

  • quality may take two weeks. The Cuencan advantage is that nearly 12 hours of daylight are available,

  • whereas at lower altitudes the heat of the day makes it impossible to weave but maybe

  • 5-6 hours.

  • [music]

  • This is the head of the local weavers' association in San Martín de Bushio. In our factory in

  • Cuenca there are approximately 100,000 hat bodies. Here the manufacturing process begins

  • and each hat is washed one by one. The hat is then bleached. The hat or the straw may

  • be dyed for color. This is where the process of the Black Panama hat begins.

  • The hats are then all dried individually (sun dried).

  • The ironing of the hat gives it stiffness.

  • The pounding of the hat gives it softness and suppleness.

  • Here you see the very first blocking of the hat. This is the most important process in

  • finishing the Panama hat properly. This is done three or four times. It has to be done

  • with hydraulic equipment, and it provides the form and shape of the final hat.

  • Here the trimming is done prior to the sewing of the edge. This is the lacquering process

  • for the stiffness of the hat.

  • And here the outer band is prepared prior to being sewn on.

  • This is the show room of our factory, the largest Panama hat factory in all the world.

  • Thank you for this tour of Panama hats.


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