There’s no doubt that a high-quality hat offers its owner significant advantages over less-expensive models. However, the best men’s hats can cost a lot of money. With so many options available on the market – at vastly differing price points – does it really make sense to purchase the best men’s hat which you can afford, or would it be better to select one of the cheaper options?
In this article, we’ll examine the advantages of buying a pricier, upmarket hat versus the more budget-friendly variety. Naturally, given that it’s our particular area of expertise, we’ll emphasize selection of the best men’s Panama hats.
What Advantages Do the Best Men’s Hats Offer Over Budget Alternatives?
Why spend all that money on a great-quality hat rather than one that’s merely OK? It’s only a hat, right? Well, although it can be tempting to go for the budget option, when
it comes to men’s hats, you really do get your money’s worth.
Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and find a well-designed hat for a great price. Mostly, though,
cheap hats tend to lag behind the best men’s hats in terms of their style credentials. Not
only is this apparent with respect to the hat’s overall design and silhouette, but particularly with respect to the finer details.
It’s simple: a hat manufacturer which cares enough about the quality of its products to
use superior construction techniques and high-quality materials is unlikely to waste time on a lackluster design. To put it another way, the best men’s hats are generally as well-designed as they are well-made.
Here at Ultrafino, we specialize in high-quality Panama hats for men. When it comes to straw hats, the most notable difference between cheap models and the best men’s hats is simply the quality of the weave. The crude, coarse-woven hats available from many online hat stores look more like wastepaper baskets than fashionable items of headgear for discerning gentlemen. While they might be fit for a Halloween costume, they’re not a credible option when style is a concern.
As we said, occasionally you might find a relatively cheap hat that looks fine, at least to
the untrained eye. However, as we all know, that which looks good doesn’t always feel good. Cheap synthetic materials will make for a less breathable hat and, consequently, a hot and sweaty head. Meanwhile, hats with badly-stitched seams, badly-designed hardware, and other signs of poor workmanship can be very uncomfortable to wear – even after just a short time.
Hats aren’t just about look and feel, though – they’re also designed to serve a specific
purpose. Whether it’s a summer hat which ensures that you stay cool and shaded from the sun or a winter hat meant to keep you warm, the best men’s hats deliver on functionality as much as on style and comfort.
Many cheap hats are made from synthetic fibers. These hats will be colder in the winter and, perhaps paradoxically, considerably hotter in the summer. At Ultrafino, all of our hats are made from natural fibers so as to provide the best performance, no matter the season.
The best men’s hats are produced from hardwearing materials which will last a lifetime. Beyond the materials themselves, the production methods employed to produce a high-quality hat tend to be far superior to those of their cheaper counterparts, thereby guaranteeing many years of continued use.
By contrast, a poorly-made straw hat might start to fray after only a relatively short period
of use. Similarly, an inferior felt hat might not even last a year.
Sure, if you only paid $40 for a hat in the first place, you might argue that this scenario isn’t really an issue, as you’d probably get a good amount of wear out of your bargain hat before it winds up in the trash.
However, is this actually true?
When it comes to cheap hats, the results of a quick cost-per-wear calculation can often provide something of a revelation. A high-grade Panama hat such as the Packable Fedora will set you back ten times what you might pay for a superficially similar hat from a discount store. That said, aside from the obviously inferior look and quality of the box store hat, you may be surprised to discover that the cost-per-wear of the cheaper hat is also considerably higher than that of the good-quality one.
Think about it. If the cheap model gets worn a few times per month for six months before
falling apart versus a high-quality hat being worn daily for ten years or more, the better hat works out to be much cheaper in the long run.
What’s more, should you ever decide to part with your headgear, a premium-grade hat
such as our creased crown Montecristi Optimo will hold its price very well on the used
market. The same can’t be said for cheap Panama hats of unknown origin, for which
there is essentially no resale market at all.
Materials and the Environment
Poor-quality hats tend to be made from poor-quality materials. Not only are cheap
materials likely to be much less hardwearing than those used to make the best men’s
hats, but the industrial processes associated with their production are also likely to be
much less environmentally sound.
Producing a hat on the cheap means cutting corners on production standards so as to reduce overall costs. Often, the easiest way to achieve this is to either utilize environmentally-damaging chemical processes or to fabricate the hat from synthetic fibers. Unfortunately, these sorts of products tend to shed harmful microplastics into the environment.
At Ultrafino, all of our hats are constructed from natural primary materials, using traditional craft processes which have been developed over centuries. A high-quality straw hat such as our Havana Retro is not made on an industrial production line with various processes harmful to the environment. Rather, it is woven by hand solely from the natural fibers of the toquilla palm.
Whether it’s a premium-grade Panama like the Montecristi Special Vented Crown or a
100% wool felt hat such as the fashionable Simmone fedora, you will invariably find that
all of the best men’s hats are made in a similarly traditional and environmentally-friendly
Remember: the key takeaway is that it’s not just about the material used, but also how long a well-made hat will last. To produce a cheap hat will likely require just as many resources as a high-quality hat, but if the cheap hat ends up in a landfill after only a few months, that’s a very poor use of those resources.
Ethics and Labor
Of course, there’s a limit to how much a hat manufacturer can cut corners and still
produce a marketable product. In order to produce the cheapest hat possible, sometimes the only area left in which to economize is the cost of labor.
This means that your cheap hat may come at a significant price in terms of human
rights abuses. Indeed, many of the very cheapest men’s hats are produced in countries with lax labor laws or where minimum wage requirements are not well-enforced, if such laws exist at all.
Today, they will also tend to be made with automated industrial machinery. Not only
does this result in an inferior product for you as a customer, but it also leads to
unemployment in the communities that have traditionally produced these hats.
In contrast, the best men’s hats are made by highly-skilled workers, in environments where they are more likely to be fairly paid for their hard work. At Ultrafino, we don’t just make great hats – we are also actively investing in the preservation of both the traditions and the future livelihoods of the communities with which we collaborate.
With respect to men’s hats, as with many things in life, opting to go with an inexpensive version over a high-quality one will likely turn out to be false economy in the long run. Sure, purchasing a cheap, fun hat on a whim simply because you like it is perhaps not the greatest of transgressions. For those just starting out on a lifelong passion for headgear, making one or two early mistakes with one’s hat choices is only to be expected.
For most people, though, the general pattern will be to purchase a number of inexpensive hats in the early years – briefly enjoying them while they last – before inevitably
investing in a more upmarket model in the end. However, if you were to buy the best hat you could afford in the first place, skipping the cheap models, you could save yourself quite a bit of wasted money, not to mention all of the compromised comfort and style along the way.
Our advice, then, is to always buy the very best men’s hat which you can afford. If you opt for an Ultrafino model, we’re confident that you’ll never have cause to regret it!