The History of Crofut & Knapp, Dobbs, and Cavanagh Hat Manufacturing
The name Fedora to describe a style of men’s hat is strictly of North American usage. In England and in Europe, the name Fedora was unknown, not used for men’s hats at all. Only in recent years has it managed to work its way east across the Atlantic.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that the term Fedora was not generally used within the hat-manufacturing industry. Industry divided hats into two primary categories, stiff hats and soft hats. Within each primary category were subcategories, such as stiff felts, stiff silks, stiff straws, soft felts and soft straws. The public, however, knew these hats by different names. Stiff felts were Derbies, stiff silks were top hats, and Stiff straws were Sennitt Straws (or Boaters). The Fedora fell into the soft felt category, along with slouch hats. Soft straws were hats like the Panama. The only division within the hat-manufacturing industry that would use the colloquial names for hats was the advertising division. This translated down into the retailer advertising that the public would see, primarily in newspapers and later on, in magazines.
© 2016 J. Bradford Bowers