We take great pride in our handmade hats, with good reason.

Not many retailers can claim their products offer “outstanding value to humanity,” but the Panama hat craft has been recognized by UNESCO, the intellectual arm of the United Nations, as an invaluable source of inspiration for all peoples. The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes intangible practices such as Chinese acupuncture, Spanish flamenco, and the Mediterranean diet. By inscribing the art of Panama hat weaving onto its prestigious list, UNESCO simultaneously honored Panama hats and promised to safeguard their legacy.

The art of creating Panama hats has endured for centuries. Panama hat artisans weave magic out of thread-like straw, harvested at the base of the Andes Mountains, in the tradition of their ancestors. Craftspeople pass down the secrets of Panama hat weaving to their children, who learn from an early age through observation and imitation.

Panama hat weavers’ skill too often goes unrecognized, undervalued, and unappreciated. At Panador, we are constantly working to correct this wrong. As you can imagine, we’re overjoyed by UNESCO’s decision, knowing it’s one more step in the right direction. We hope official recognition by UNESCO will help clarify the misconception about the Panama hat’s origin while generating worldwide interest in these exquisite hats. We’re especially grateful UNESCO has committed to preserving the endangered art of Panama hat weaving.

Just think, the skill that went into creating your Panador hat has been declared an invaluable piece of “world heritage.”

Hold your head a little higher this season, knowing hundreds of years of artistic tradition have been woven into your very Panama hat. :)

For further reading:

  • The Panama hat’s entry on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
  • UNESCO article explaining intangible heritage and ways of preserving traditional craftsmanship
  • The process of hand-weaving traditional Panama hats
  • UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage List

Rollable Optimos are Here!!!!

Rollable Optimos are here… and coming soon to PanadorHats.com!

Rollable Optimo Panama Hat Walt and Rollable Optimo Panama hat

We are so pleased with the quality of these hats. They are supple as silk. Light as air. And beautifully woven. Treat yourself to a TRAVEL-FRIENDLY Panama hat.


We discourage rolling any of our fine hats. Rolling a Panama hat shortens the life of a straw hat that’s not designed especially for rolling.

HOWEVER… the crease on these Optimos makes these hats more conducive to rolling. And these hats will be affordable — a nice weave but not a superfine weave — so you won’t have to worry about misshaping a masterfully-woven, $$$$ Panama hat.

We added these hats to our collection, because as much as we cringe at the practice of folding hand-woven hats — we have to admit that rolling a hat is a convenient way to travel.

To protect the lightweight and supple straw, store your hat unrolled, and only fold your hat when necessary. That way, when you arrive at your tropical destination a little jet-lagged and travel-weary yourself, you’ll pull from your suitcase a perfectly-preserved Panama hat. You’ll unfurl and don your hat, and transform into the handsome colonial adventurer, ready to explore exotic lands!

Colonial Panama hat crease

More Hat Lore

Steamy Weekend

Whew! Temps in the Midwest climbed into the triple digits this week. These summer scorchers have nearly made us lose our cool, but a GQ article explaining how Panama hats have historically kept wearers cool and fresh helped revitalize our fashion sense.

“In an era where no outfit was complete without a hat, the Panama was a godsend.

“For the gold-miners of the West, it offered face and head protection during a day’s work in the sun, for businessmen in the East it was an attractive way to keep your melon cool in an office sans A/C, and for everyone else, nothing looked better when posted up on a porch wasting a summer’s day.

“Now we know what you’re thinking, ‘those days are gone, and hats went along with them.’ But for a season when accessorizing can be difficult given the temps, and everyone seems to be dressing down, a Panama is a functional, easy way to stand apart.” -Jake Gallagher

Get the full story here, and stay cool!


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Packing Tips from Stylist Kate Schelter

Kate in a Panama hat at her NYC apartment

NYC stylist Kate Schelter dressing for a summer outing; photo by Fashion Consultant Natalie Joos

We’re right at the height of summer, the glory days for Panama hat lovers everywhere. These sunny days I don’t leave home without my Panama hat. Even when I’m packing light for summer road trips, the Panama is on my list of essential travel items. And I’m not the only one.

Kate Schelter, an NYC stylist and image consultant, talked to Catherine Blair Pfander of NBC New York about her perfect traveling ensemble — the vacation must haves for versatile summer style that also fit in a carry-on. Kate is headed to Italy and Cape Cod this summer, and here’s her list of can’t-leave-withouts:

-Mexican sundress

-Panama hat


-Toms shoes

-And lots of sunscreen

Smart lady!

This summer she’s obsessed with looking cool from head to toe: “white eyelet blouse with white jean skirt with a fray, or cotton voile eyelet dresses, white Panama hat.”

Read all her great tips for looking great while traveling light.

Packed my Panador Panama hat and ready for a summer road trip!

Weekend road trip duffle and Panador Fedora Panama hat. Ready for Lake Murray, SC!

Now all I need is a three-day weekend. :)


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Wow!! There’s no experience that quite compares to Derby weekend. From sombreros to pink trilbies, Panamas to fascinators, we saw every kind of hat conceivable (including a 50-pound stuffed horse) as 165,000 hat-wearers converged at Churchill Downs to celebrate the most exciting two minutes in sports.

Don’t worry, we did our share of celebrating. It’d be impossible not to, as the official Panama hat of the Derby, with Kentucky bourbon flowing, a stogie in hand, and a race-track full of fine people who know a good hat when they see one. Spectators dressed to impress, and the Derby was the place to see genteel men’s fashion (pastels, seersucker, bow ties, Panama hats, linen) and glamorous Southern ladies in colorful prints, heels, and wide-brimmed hats. Gentlemen took style cues from The Art of Manliness, and we snapped plenty of pics of men in the following looks:

Art of Manliness style guide for the Kentucky Derby

straw, stogies, grandstands of Churchill Downs, Panador Panama Hat Churchill Downs race track, Panama hat and seersucker at Kentucky Derby Louisville Dapper Derby man with Mint Julep and Panama hat at Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby

So check out our photos from Cinco de Derby, raise your mint julep, and let’s toast to “I’ll Have Another” !

Friends at the Kentucky Derby with cigar and Panama hats

The Cuenca Story:
New Weavers, New Styles

A Man of Many Hats

When you’re the owner of a small business, you wear a lot of hats. Some of you can relate. And despite the fact that your business card carries “CEO” or some other important title, often the head honcho ends up doing whatever task needs to be done, no matter how menial. I like this part of being an entrepreneur. It keeps me humble and involved at all levels of my business.

Walt laying out Panama Hat bodies to dry

It was Thursday evening in Cuenca and already I had reconnected with friends, eaten like a king (langostinos and cold cerveza), and commissioned new styles of hats (more on that in a sec). Everyone warned me that the city would shut down in observance of Good Friday, and I was just saying adios to my partner Fernando, when a delivery of freshly-washed hat bodies came in from our weavers in the outskirts of town. Now normally Fernando, who is not only an incredible innovator who knows everything there is to know about Panama hats, but also the vice-mayor of Cuenca, delegates the task of laying out hundreds of hats to dry to his hat finishers. But it was Maundy Thursday and everyone had already gone home. So Fernando and I did what a lot of business owners do in situations like this one. We rolled up our shirt sleeves and got to work.

It was well into evening, and I had to chuckle as we laid out hats one by one. Here we were, jefe and presidente, staying late to ensure that each one of these Panama hat bodies received the proper treatment. For Fernando and me, our businesses are our babies. And like many business owners, we’ll do whatever it takes to make them successful.

Supporting New Weavers

I am so excited about what we’re doing in Cuenca. Brainstorming about ways to advance the cause of weavers, Fernando and I talked about the challenges new weavers face when first beginning to make Panama hats. We decided to make a commitment to buying hats from weavers who want to learn the trade, and I’m happy to report we came up with some great ideas for giving new weavers the opportunity to practice and perfect their art. The challenge is always to keep weavers weaving, especially weavers who are just starting out, so they have enough work to be able to support themselves and their families.

Walt and Fernando at Moreno Panama Hats

Foldable Hats

Now, you’ve probably heard how much I despise the practice of rolling Panama hats. It drives me crazy that other companies sell Panamas for a pretty penny, claiming they are travel friendly, when the fact is rolling a Panama hat is one of the quickest ways to turn a sharp looking hat into a rumpled, misshapen mess. However, we constantly receive requests for foldable, packable hats.

Fernando visibly shuddered at their mention, as would any producer who takes pride in the quality of his product. We would never sell our fine hats as roll-ups.

That’s when it dawned on us.

Why not offer hats with minor imperfections or a coarser weave as roll-ups, and at a great price too? Foldable hats would be the perfect hat for new weavers to practice making. And an inexpensive Panama hat is ideal for knocking around in the garden or packing in a suitcase for a quick trip to the beach.

So, we’re making the best of the nefarious practice of rolling handmade hats by offering foldable hats in the Optimo style. I’m comfortable with this way of selling foldable hats and actually looking forward to giving customers what they want without compromising the integrity of our headwear. The best part of it is, the purchase of these hats gives new weavers the opportunity to practice and perfect their weaving.

New Styles

We’re also going to start offering our Fedora and Outback style hats in four colors: semi-white (bleached), natural, black, and beige. We’ve restocked our Ultimate Outback Panama hats and are now offering this style with or without the SolarweaveTM UV-protective lining, depending on your preference.

We’ve got more in the works, but that’s all I can say for now. Hope you enjoy our new Optimo Foldable Panama Hat and the much-anticipated return (and reworking!) of our Ultimate Outback.  c|:)

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“Hats Off” to the Happy Couple

Lovely bride, handsome Panador Panama Hats, married on a beach in Bali. Well done, Cameron! Congrats

Bridal Party with Black Short-Brim Trilby Panama Hats by Panador

Groom and groomsmen show off their Black Short-Brim Trilby Panama Hats by Panador. No slouch of a groomsman’s gift for these guys.

Groom and Groomsmen with Black Short-Brim Trilby Panama Hats by Panador

Bon Voyage — Off to Paradise!

This weekend, I’m flying to Ecuador to touch base with our partners in Cuenca. Besides meeting weavers in training, enjoying great food and reuniting with old friends, I plan to scout out some new styles to add to our summer selection. While I can’t unveil our newest collection just yet, suffice to say we’ll have hats from all ends of the spectrum.

Looking forward to experiencing a Semana Santa in Latin America. Sunday is Easter, aka Ladies Wear Big Hats to Church Day. ;)

Happy Easter to all celebrating!

Walt Pieper of Panador Panama Hats
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Spring Styles & March Hat Giveaway

The trees have blossomed here in the midwest, the sun’s ablaze, and pastels are out in full force. Spring is making us Derby-crazy, and in honor of the Official Panama Hat of the Kentucky Derby, we’re giving away a Kentucky Derby Classic Fedora Panama Hat for this month’s drawing (a $95 value). Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for a chance every month to win a free Panador hat!

Official Panama Hat of the 138 Kentucky DerbyFebruary Winner in a Panador Classic Gambler Panama Hat

Check out the picture above of David Holliday (our February winner) in his Panador Classic Gambler. Congrats, David — looking good!

So follow us, and may the hat-giveaway odds be ever in your favor.


Website’s Art Gallery Showcases Cuenca









It’s little wonder our handwoven Panama hats come from Cuenca, a beautiful mountain city often called the art capital of Ecuador. Cuenca is an artist’s enclave. Crisscrossed by flowing rivers and quaint cobblestone streets, the city’s lush beauty and the artistic heritage seen in the architecture and handmade goods for sale in the markets provide natural inspiration for the many artists of Cuenca. The smell of homemade treats and fresh-cut flowers mingle in the plazas as women in colorful skirts and jaunty Panama hats sell bouquets of flowers, handicrafts, textiles, and jewelry.

Cuenca’s tradition of handicraft has produced many fine artists including Eduardo Vega, Miguel Illescas, and Eduardo Segovia, who have gained worldwide recognition. Now you can get to know some of Cuenca’s painters, sculptors, ceramists, jewelers, and artisans at ArtCuenca, a website designed to promote the art culture of Cuenca and spread appreciation for Cuencan work. See for yourself why we can’t stop raving about the skill of Cuencan artists and weavers!

Eduardo Vega Gallery and Shop

The Studio of Eduardo Vega

Eduardo Vega Gallery and Shop

Cuenca, the home of Panador Panama Hats