12 November 2009

The Great Australian Fedora Niggle

As you may have read earlier, one particularly harrowing self-inflicted disaster to befall me on my travels through Europe was the loss of my trademark black fedora whilst changing trains on the Spanish/French border. It was gut wrenching at the time, although to be honest it was a miracle the thing made it as far as it did, as it was always riding in strange places on trains owing to my inability to rest my head back against a train seat while wearing it.

Anyway, once I was safely back in Australia I set about an epic interstate adventure in quest of a replacement. I started my search in the menswear and department stores around Adelaide city, but I didn’t have any luck. This was hardly surprising, as it is well established that Adelaide is more or less completely useless in terms of anything cool.

My sister had suggested that late spring was probably the wrong time to be buying felt hats, and that most people would only buy such a thing in the lead up to winter. I couldn’t help but feel that this was a ludicrous suggestion. Since when did black fedoras have an in season? The last time they were fashionable was nineteen forty-seven. There again, my sister would know more about such things than I would.

I took my search to a national level when I visited Sydney on my way north. I was so determined to find the right hat that I even resorted to taking a girl shopping with me. We went straight for a specialty hat shop in the Strand Arcade and although they did have a selection of black fedoras, none of them were quite right. If this seems a little picky and ridiculous, that’s only because… it is.

Almost all fedoras in shops today have a folded or lined edge on the brims. Apparently this is considered the vogue look in felt hats. My old hat had what I have since learned is called a cut edge, without the girly edging on the brim. Unfortunately this is now considered terribly unfashionable (I am still working on the draft of a paper theorising the exitence of a quantum commercialism uncertainty principle, whereby the very act of me wanting something specific instantly renders it unavailable) so such cuts are very difficult to come by.

But come by it we did. Sort of. There on a low shelf in the so-called ‘menswear’ department of David Jones on Pitt St. was exactly what I needed: black felt, cut edge, size 58 fedora.

Two hundred dollars. Freak me sideways. Who pays $200 for a hat? The most relevant answer is: not me. I was crestfallen, but I still had one trick up my sleeve.

I spent a week in Brisbane and headed on in to the shop where I bought the original way back in ’06. The shop was still open and still full of hats. I asked the same guy about whether he had any of the kind of hat I wanted in stock.

Hat guy: Ah yes, I remember the hat you’re talking about. It came out of Melbourne right? An emu feather in the band?
Garry: That’s the one.
Hat Guy: Yep. They don’t make those anymore.
Garry: (aside) Noooooooooooooooo!

I looked around his shop for a while, and did find a similar hat that was the perfect style. Unfortunately they only had it in brown, so I asked about ordering one in black. He looked it up on their database and it turns out the manufacturers (Akubra) only make it in brown or steel grey.

At this point the young sales assistant, who evidently had some experience in other hat retailers around the country (…I know) remarked that he knew of a hat that would match the specifications I had asked for exactly. Unfortunately Akubra made it exclusively for the Strand Arcade hat shop in Sydney.

I may have thrown a small tantrum at this point.

So I’m still fedoraless as I sit and write this in Darwin. Unfortunately here it’s difficult to find styled hats that aren’t decorated with crocodile teeth. I’m working on potentially placing an order with Akubra, once I can figure out what styles they do. But before that comes a car and a new computer and new phone and God knows what else. I’ll keep you posted. Because I’m sure you’re all riveted.

Far from home




Garry with 2 Rs
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