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American Craftsman: Optimo Hats

By Lindy

Bogart from “impossible cool”

“am I a hat person?”

I have found myself internalizing that question lately. Hats are like glasses, on some people they are invisible, if just right. They can look so natural and so effortless, like an extension to ones face. Hats are the same way, either it works or it doesn’t. What makes a person a “hat person,” why can some people pull it off and others can’t? Is it something like the shape of one’s face, or is it just a certain sense of self? The world seems to be full of hat people lately, with events such as the royal wedding, and the Derby, makes me contemplates the meaning and purpose of the hat, and the importance of finding the perfect one.

Southside of Chicago is deemed the “Hat Capital of the World,” and Optimo Hats is king. Optimo is a Chicago institution “one of the last remaining traditional hat shops in the world.” Current owner Graham Thompson started apprenticing in the hat shop when he was 16, learning the trade and taking over at the age of 22. He breathed new life into a business deeply rooted in tradition, without sacrificing the craft. “The hope is that these hats will be around for 50 years from now. It’s what a true Luxury product is, something that’s made properly.”

These hats have a true mark of craftsmanship, and the customer service to back it up. Proper measuring and fittings, consultation on the right hat to suit your lifestyle, and the construction is par none.

It’s refreshing to find young people who are taking the time to hone their craft, and appreciate things of quality. Items which can stand the test of time, and making an investment in the future. Next time I’m in Chicago this is where you will find me.