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Are Panama Hats Made in Ecuador?

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Ecuador Travel

Panama HatWhile 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.

Panama Hats - Made in Ecuador

Panama Hat Display in Cuenca

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.

Panama Hat

Panama Hat Store

 Read more: The Panama Hat: Myths & Legends

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

4 comments… add one
  • elvira Nov 27, 2011, 5:17 pm

    well i actually saw one hat at homero ortega that was $1000! it was sooo beautiful

  • Lisa E @chickybus Jan 1, 2011, 10:57 pm

    I remember those….from when I lived in Ecuador. Crazy, isn't it? Many do get confused by the name! 🙂

    • Bryan Haines Jan 2, 2011, 6:38 am

      Hi Lisa, you know it sure isn’t confusing about who the tourists are, though. Its kind of like a tourist flag here in Cuenca. When we see 3 or 4 brand new panama hats strolling through the center, we know. “Yup, tourists”.

      Still lots of chicken buses here. And dogs and sometimes even pigs. My daughter almost stepped on a sack a few weeks ago – turns out it was full of live cuy (or guinea pigs). Who knew?

      How long ago did you live here?

      • Malcolm Barber Oct 20, 2012, 11:04 am

        Remind me , if we ever get to Ecuador, NOT to wear the panama hat i bought in Panama.

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