Panama Hat Weaving: A UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage | Ecuadorian Hats | Toquilla Hats |

The hat, an invaluable cultural heritage

Although Ecuador sits on the land of volcanoes and earthquakes, it is rich in natural resources and values. Quito, the country’s capital, is not only known as the El Dorado of the outdoors, it is also a UNESCO heritage site, for its Mitad del Mundo, a monument which highlights the exact location of the Equator. The only place in the world with such a long-lasting hat-weaving tradition. Despite their name, "Panama hats" originated in Ecuador. They are still exclusively made there today and remain crucial to the survival of its artisans and their economy.

Worldwide recognition for eco-responsibility

Learning to produce this local treasure happens naturally at a young age. Each hat takes between three days to eight months of hard work to craft. The Ecuadorians are proud to offer a remarkable quality product. Due to the natural rigidity of the straw, hat makers weave from early morning to late at night, when the humidity allows the material to be worked properly. This weaving technique passed down since the dawn of time, is listed on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Register, by UNESCO—a worldwide recognition, honouring Ecuador’s unique craftsmanship, practices, knowledge and precious traditional techniques.

UNESCO certification

Through generations, this hat-weaving tradition has been preserved and honed over time, bringing today’s consumers the most elegant straw hats on the market. The fineness of the straw and the way it is woven ensure top quality. Insider tip: The tighter the straw is braided, the higher the value of the final product on the world market. Not convinced? See the difference! With a more delicate straw and finer weave, the hat is lighter and more comfortable to wear. It doesn’t dry out as much and is more flexible which makes it more durable.

Type de tressageDifferences between the types of braided straw

Master hatmakers only use straw from responsible crops to minimize their impact on nature. The straw, also called toquilla, is made from the fibres of a palm tree that grows on the Ecuadorian coast. Since exporting this palm tree is strictly prohibited, the Ecuadorian people retain exclusivity over this quality hat.

It starts with a protected resource

The fabrication of these works of art lies in the cultivation of exclusive renewable resources by Ecuadorian farmers. With their nimble fingers, they cut the stems of the plant and separate the fibres from the outer casing. Then, they boil the fibres to remove the chlorophyll and dye them to obtain the ubiquitous lighter tint. A considerable amount of work is done before the weaving even begins.

From the harvested straw, they make the top and side of the crown, as well as the brim of the hat, then clean, bleach, dry, iron and pressure treat them.

Credit: RONNEL

Hats that make a statement

We offer a variety of styles made entirely of eco-friendly materials on the fair trade market. Shop the most refined looks for men and women, from elevated silhouettes to casual cuts to wear on vacation. Sleek, unisex and ultralight, the "Grand Waffle" is the perfect accessory for laid-back afternoons. Its brim lends a tropical vacation feel and protects you from the summer sun. A must-have for your beach holiday. Available in 9 colours, and yes ladies, it comes in pink.

Discover our "Cocodama", inspired by the glamour of Coco Chanel, the symbol of iconic elegance. This style has a distinctive rounded shape with a wide brim and a delicate bow at the back. Wear it with a little black dress and oversized sunglasses for a touch of glam during your next special occasion.

Cocodama straw hatCredit: RONNEL

Luxury with environmental values

At RONNEL, we believe in eco-friendly and sustainable fashion. Respect for the environment is at the heart of our business development. Every decision and action goes hand in hand with the green philosophy of the Ecuadorian people, to reduce our impact on the environment. With our selection of luxurious hats made entirely in Ecuador, we get to share the values of Ecuadorian artisans with the world and foster their fundamental desire to live in harmony with nature.

When you choose RONNEL, you support the preservation of ancestral knowledge and the world's natural resources.

 Credit: UNESCO

Author: Julie Dubois, d’Inspiration Web
Adapted from French by: Jonelle Larouche