While it might be hard to believe at first, Panama hats really are made in Ecuador.
Specifically in 2 areas – Monticristi (Coastal Region) and Cuenca (Sierra Region).
After catching on in Europe in the 1800’s, huge shipments of the lightweight woven hat were destined for Paris, and were shipped through Panama – the last point of departure in the Americas – confusing Europeans with the actual origin of the hat. Napoleon the Great, was one of the first famous people to sport a Panama.
Made from palm fibers, boiled, dried then woven, these hats have been made in Ecuador since at least the 16th century.
Depending on the tightness of the weave, a single hat can take anywhere from 1 day to 6 months to complete. Costs range from a mere $7.00 up to over $200. Tourists to Ecuador eat these up – gringos are easily spotted around the country sporting a variety of these typical hats.
Read more: The Panama Hat: Myths & Legends