The Montecristi hats are considered the finest toquilla straw hats in the world. It is an artifact that carries history, culture and the best finishes made 100% by Ecuadorian hands. These iconic hats come from Montecristi, Ecuador next to the Pacific Ocean in the province of Manabí. We work closely with the artisans in the region to create these works of art, from the harvesting of the straw to the finished product, always committing to our values of quality, social and environmental sustainability. Most of the habitants in the zone of Montecristi learned their skills from previous generations to dedicate their lives to the artisanal work with the toquilla straw.
The artisans work before the sun comes out from the horizon of the ocean to the chilling nights ahead of a new day of weaving. What makes the toquilla straw of Ecuador so special are the microclimates as these make the toquilla straw softer and lets the artisan achieve a silk-like texture through weaving. Artisans go for hikes that take around 2-3 hours looking for the toquilla palm. After these hikes, the artisans are back to their homes where they let the toquilla straw drain its water for three days. After the straw has been drained, they proceed to chop the wisps of straw in thin lines and the process takes 3-4 hours just to chop 3 wisps of straw. When the straw is dry it is placed in a pot to boil in hot water for 3 minutes. After the straw is boiled, it is tied up and hung up through wire to dry in the sun.
The Montecristi toquilla straw hats must be woven in a special position were artisans weave normally at night. If they try to weave throughout the day in the dry and extremely hot climate from the coastal zone, the toquilla straw has a chance of potentially cracking and ruining the hat. These hats can take 1 month to a year to make a singular unit and most of the habitants of Montecristi produce 2-3 hats a year. These hats are valued by their weaving grade and the finer the hat is, the more expensive it gets as it takes more time for the artisan to produce it. The grade is measured by how many knots there are in the hats. Smaller knots make a finer hat, but it is a more detailed job. Most of the habitants from the zone of Montecristi learned this art from a family member as it is a family learned tradition. More knots take more time, and the grade of the hat will be higher, which means the hat will be finer.
Artisans in various towns throughout Ecuador dedicate their life weaving the iconic “Panama Hats “. In 2020 the worldwide Pandemic of Covid-19 hit Ecuador and the artisanal community was greatly affected. In K. Dorfzaun we work as closely as we can with the artisan communities of Ecuador, and we implemented workshops with them so that we could come together and overcome the problems the Pandemic brought. We work closely with the sanitary regulations for our mutual safety. Lately the fashion industry started to get traction again and we have been able to successfully fit demand thanks to these amazing workers and artisans who with their skills and dedication have worked against all odds.
Even though the famous Montecristi hats are known as “Panama Hats” these authentic hats come from Ecuador. In 2012 the UNESCO declared the traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Now the authentic toquilla straw hats carry an emblematic stamp in the inside of the crown that legitimatizes the origin of the hat. These hats are one of the most important artifacts of the Ecuadorian culture and history and its people work on the daily to maintain this tradition alive.
At K. Dorfzaun we work closely with the artisans and we constantly check for quality to ensure the finest hats to our clients around the world. We want people to have the best and only the best as we work to ensure quality, reliability, and a lifelong product. We open our doors to the creative minds of our clients as we work to fulfill their hat specifications such as the hat’s form, color, type of weave, hat bands etc.… It is our duty and our mission to keep up with fashion and at the same time respect the art of our artisans. A fundamental pillar of our company is to respect the lifelong traditions of the artisans and to invest in this millenary tradition while committing on our social and environmental pledges.