In the beginning there is the felt. There are many different materials, that can be used to make felt. Starting with wool felt, the most simple material of all, via rabbit- and hare felt and a variation of exotic mixtures like grizzly bear - with donkey hair, golden retriever and long cat hair (unfortunately no bad joke...) to the felt, that is made from beaver fur. The best of all.
Why is felt made from beaver fur the best...?
Due to the high density of the fur. The denser the felt is – the less air there is between the single furs – the smoother and prettier the surface will be. The more compact and dense the material is, the longer it will stand up to downpours and temperature variations. On humans, the average is 300 hairs per square centimeter. On a beaver there are 30,000! Therefore due to the hairs being so fine, such a high density can be achieved. This feature is used by us in cooperation with a felt manufacturer that has been making high end hat rawbodies for several generations. Already at this point the character of the hat to be has been decided. The stiffness of the crown and the brim. According to our specifications, our rawbodies are made exactly to our request, dyed and then pass through several quality inspections in order to ensure our high standards. The rawbodies are then sorted by sizes and given to us for further processing.
Now the actual hatmaking begins. In a modern factory, the block – a wooden model that gives the hat its shape – is pressed into the rawbody using a hydraulic press. It is then pounced (sanded) on another machine. In our case these steps are done exclusively and carefully by hand. The only electrical device we use, is a classic, heavy iron.
The felt is continuously ironed and then set aside for several hours allowing the felt to come to rest. Now the brim break is put into the felt. The break which seperates the crown from the brim. Finally the brim is cut precisely to measure. Again by hand and exactly to your specifications.
Now it is time for our exclusive pre-aging process. A process we developed after countless conversations with old master hatters and felt makers. Here the felt will gain a shape rigidity, that is far beyond common and gives the Adventurebilt it‘s unique resistance to the elements. This is accomplished without bereaving the premium felt of it‘s character by using chemicals. This process takes several hours and cannot be seen. However it will give you a much longer period of time to enjoy your hat without the need for a refurbishing.
Now comes the most time consuming part of hatmaking and at the same time, the one that gains the most visible results: the pouncing (sanding). Each hat is pounced for hours and hours. Even though our rawbodies are pre-pounced from our felt manufactuer with a 320 grit sandpaper – which is where most hatters stop pouncing. It is a long way yet, before the felt has obtained the velvet-silky surface, which is characteristic of the Adventurebilt Deluxe.
On a machine made hat this is done automatically on a rotating device. In our case, this is of course done by hand. Starting with a 400 grit sandpaper to remove all of the uneveness, with a sturdy and continuous pouncing with the nap of the felt. What follows is the refinement of the surface. 600, 800, 1000 and 1200 grit hardly remove any material yet but it helps to sand the surface to a smooth and solid unit. Finally the felt is polished with a 2000 grit sandpaper. Afterwards the hat is freed from dust and felt particles, cleaned and sealed. As always we stay true to our motto, to make the most luxurious hat as possible. A hat, that underneath it‘s velvet-silky surface is ready for a lifetime of guarding your head from the elements.
Once the brim is shaped on vintage wooden brim flanges with the help of an iron and adjusted by hand, the hat is given another day to cool at room temperature. Finally a bit of water repellent – as it is used during the manufacturing process of the felt itself - is added and then it is time to carefully take care of the inner portion of the Adventurebilt.
It consists of a sweatband and a liner. Our sweatbands are made from Kangaroo hides, that are tanned traditionally at a small family owned company in Australia. They are later cut and ennobled to the sweatbands that are endorsed by our customers from all over the world. Here it is most important, that the sweatband will not shrink later on. Remember that the sweatband is the only part of the hat, that has direct contact with the head of the wearer. Any deduction of quality on this part would be a reduction of comfort while wearing the hat. That is why the sweatbands undergo so many different stages, until it is ready to perform its duty in an Adventurebilt Deluxe and to ensure a perfect fit for many, many years.
Talking about details and quality... the small white bow at the end of the sweatband is manufactured so it will not fray, even after years of use.
Next station on our travel: the snow white Adventurebilt liner. Made of high end satin. Even here differences in quality and craftmanship can be found. Usually viskosisatin is used. However we chose to use the much smoother bridal satin. This satin has the advantage of looking and feeling like silk but being way more resistant to sweat and dust. In other words: classic and at the same time just plain gorgeous. When you then see the Adventurebilt script, you can be sure that you are holding a masterpiece in the art of hatmaking in your hands. An important detail again is the craftmanship. Both liner and sweatband are sewn in completely by hand. While doing it, we are very careful to keep the seam a few millimeters above the brim break. It is perfectly straight and keeps the sweatband in place with the same force over the entire circumference of the hat. It takes a lot of time and practice before one is able to make a seam that is difficult to distinguish from a machine made one. While on 99% of todays hats the sweatbands are automatically pushed into the hat and the liner is glued in place with hot glue, both are done carefully by hand on the Adventurebilt Deluxe. Fold the sweatband out a bit and have a look for yourself. You will realize that the liner is neither glued, nor stitched into the hat automatically. These are details that cannot be seen from the outside but can very well be felt. Even if it is just to know, how much love and care it took to create this hat.
The ribbon of course is also sewn on by hand and it takes several hours before it is in place with a classic bow. Our ribbon comes from England and is traditionally made as it was during the 1930’s. Again: no cheap plastic. No shiny polyester but high quality grosgrain ribbon with a bound edge. Just like real hat ribbon should be.
Fact is, that with an automatic finishing process, larger quantities of hats can be produced, faster and especially more affordably. If someone desires a cheap hat that can be forgotten in a train without a bad conscience or can be trashed after being caught in a downpour, this might be the best choice for you.
If you however value old traditions and craftmanship and know that a hat is much more than just headgear, you’ll love an Adventurebilt. Manual labor takes time and is complex and expensive. The same way that no ballpoint pen can compare itself with the hand made gold nib of a Mont Blanc fountain pen.
Now it is up to you to decide for yourself. A machine made, cheap production, or a hat produced via the art of traditional hatmaking of yesteryear.