Raffia - understanding fibres December 5, 2017 10:19

Raffia - understanding fibres


Raffia is a native palm of the African subcontinent with the island of Madagascar as the centre of the raffia hat trade.

The raffia palm has long branches that can grow up to 18 metres in length. Each branch is made of nearly 100 fronds which are harvested then cut into strands to dry in the sun.

Once dried,the raffia is graded and bundled ready to be crafted or for export.


The processed fiber is pliable, durable and responsive to dyes, widely used in the making of ropes, hats, shoes, baskets, mats and textiles.


Raffia fibre is versatile. It can fabricated in a number of ways to make headwear and I source a variety of styles for my collection.

The Hampton is an example of a hand crochet technique. This hat is very durable, breathable and with a filament in the edge, a robust option.



 The Lennox style below is made of a raffia cloth which is cut and sewn into a hat form. This allows the hat to be folded and come back into shape, making it a good travel option.


The Wheatfields hat below is constructed from a woven raffia plait that is stitched into a spiral. It is art finished with an ombre dye technique to give a subtle graduation of colour between brim and crown.



These three styles and other raffia hat options are available in the Newtown retail store.

Men's hat etiquette in the modern age November 29, 2017 07:49 2 Comments

Men's hat etiquette in the modern age

As the modern man embraces the wearing of hats I am often asked “what is the contemporary etiquette in men’s headwear…. should hats be removed when entering buildings…. how should I hold my hat when I am not wearing it….?”

I have chatted to a number of men about this.

Older guys respect some notions of hats off indoors but younger ones seem less concerned about this old sartorial practice.

 Legal Ethicist and committed hat-wearer, Neil Watt has honed his hat wearing practices to a fine art:

“For me, it’s all about showing respect – and avoiding disrespect.

So, when entering a private space (such as a home, or a private room such as a hospital room) I do remove my hat at the door. This does not apply to public spaces, like office buildings, shops or cafes (though higher-end restaurants may require a hat to be removed and I do remove my hat when entering a private office).

My mother would have slapped me for wearing a hat at the table and, while I adhere to this as a general rule, I’m happy to leave the hat on in a burger shop.

Sacred places, however, generally require removal of a hat – except for synagogues where the opposite applies!”

 Rosie says: “As a hat maker I agree that it is about the wearer showing their respect with the way they wear their hat, and I would say that it is also about respect for the hat itself – a good hat has a great presence and needs to be looked after.”

The dilemma for the modern man out and about in a hat is where to stow it if needing to remove it indoors. In the old days a hat and coat were taken by staff at reception and placed in a cloakroom until departure – but cloakrooms no longer exist.

Steven Lewis, owner of a copywriting agency explains: “I wasn't around when wearing a hat was the norm, not the exception. But I imagine in those days the etiquette went both ways: you removed your hat and your host provided somewhere to put it safely. That is something I've said in more than one RSL or restaurant: you want me to take it off but you're offering me nowhere to put it. With a cap, I can put it in my bag (but that's something many men don't carry) but with a Borsalino, I'm not putting it on the floor to get dirty or be trodden on! When I'm going somewhere like that, I try to remember to wear a hat I can stow easily.”

Neil Watt has come up with his own solution to this problem.

“I’ve taken to swapping my brief case and satchel for a canvas bag when I’m dining out. It’s big enough to stow my hat in and I hang it off my chair. When travelling I have a fabulous old Stetson roll-up fedora. Otherwise I place my hat on my lap for the duration of a flight (and stick it on my head when the tray table is down) or I wear a cap (8 panel, not baseball!). I never place a hat in the overhead locker.”

 Steven Lewis adds:

“In a place where I'm not asked to remove my hat, I generally won't because it's part of who I am. I'm not a clotheshorse. I put on a hat because I want to wear it, so that's what I'm going to do! But, frankly, I'm annoyed when asked to remove my hat because I've felt like I'm being treated as if I'm rude or disrespectful when my host has no intention of living up to their side of the arrangement."

 Web designer, Simon Judge wistfully reflects that:

“Gone are the days when a man learned the art of doffing their hats or touching their hats when greeting a woman in the street.  All that hat etiquette has disappeared in this new millennium. I am often asked why a man is supposed to eat bare-headed in a restaurant while a woman may wear her hat.  Well, the answer is simple.  The man's hat is supposed to be a practical head covering; the women more often than not is decoration.”

 Neil adds: “I remove my hat when being introduced to a woman for the first time (again, it’s a respect thing). Subsequent meetings with the same person receive a ‘tip of the hat’. Yes it’s old-school but it still has charm. In the glory days of the hat the rules were many and complicated but I suggest you keep it simple – be respectful – and leave it at that.”

 With the casualization of dress and changed attitudes around gender roles, these sartorial rules are no longer compulsory, but they might suit the way you want to project yourself.

Rules aside, I believe there is a psychological notion of taking a hat off indoors to bear oneself truthfully or equally to others in the room - no obstruction to eye contact.

 For the modern man hats are often a definer of their character. I believe the modern etiquette is defined by the motivation of the wearer. Hats can be worn as an expression of the individual – stating ‘this is who I am’ and the hat-wearer will find their own individual language about when and how to wear it.

What are your views on this?





PANAMA - understanding hat fibres November 24, 2017 12:56

PANAMA - understanding hat fibres



The Panama hat is woven from the fronds of the Toquilla palm that grow on the equatorial plains of Ecuador in South America.

The fibre is harvested, processed and transported to the Andean mountain towns where the local Quechua people weave it into fine hats. The centre of the panama hat industry is based in the mountain city of Cuenca.

 Popular all over the world, panama hats are in high demand.They are considered the finest of hat fibres to wear because they are breathable, lightweight and have a distinctive waxy finish, perfect for summer days.

The quality of the hat is defined by the fineness of the weave and extra fine hats [fino’s] fetch high prices.

The main industry is in commercial grade fibres woven in the Cuenca or Briza weaves.

A number of my hat styles for both women and men are made of panama fibre. They are available in a range of colours and grades of weave. They can be purchased online or in store where a selection of customised trimmings are available.







SISAL - understanding hat fibres November 14, 2017 09:54

SISAL - understanding hat fibres


Sisal is a strong and versatile fibre grown in many countries throughout the world.

It is used to make rope, twine, floor coverings, paper, cloth and hats. Hat Sisal is grown mostly in the Philippines and China.

With headwear it is finely woven to create lightweight hats with a linen finish like the Lily style featured below.


I use sisal to make men’s and women’s headwear because of its affinity to absorb dye and to easily stretch and form over hat blocks.

The video link shows the harvesting and processing procedures of Sisal.

Check out two of my hats made with Sisal available online and in store.




Covenant crew land on a new planet

 In early January 2016 when Sydney was lost in deep summer, Cheryl and I embarked on our first expedition into science fiction headwear for Ridley Scott’s Alien Covenant.

 Collaborating with costume designer, Janty Yeats and her design team, we were commissioned to create headwear for one segment of the movie. Our primary reference material being the work of French illustrator, Moebius.

Janty’s vision for the Covenant players was for stylish but practical work wear in the French Foreign Legion style, garments that could be worn while scoping the pristine wilderness of a newly discovered planet.

It was a natural choice to select moleskin and oilcloth as our base fibres, durable staples of Australian outback apparel.

With Moebius as our guide, we created a range of fitted explorer caps. Art finished with badges and metallic elements that themed with the explorer wear.

Covenant crew exploring the wilderness in Ridley Scott's Alien

Pictured are Katherine Waterson as Daniels and Michael Fassbender as Walter

It was a privelidge to collaborate with the British crew on this big feature film and be part of the Ridley Scott juggernaut.

 Delighted to see our headwear in action in the wilderness of New Zealand’s spectacular Milford Sound.

 Sadly many of the players in this plot come to a sticky end. However most performers like to go down well dressed.

HAT WEAVES FROM AROUND THE GLOBE August 12, 2016 16:56 2 Comments


In the lead up to the summer hat season I fill my studio with a range of straw hats in a myriad of colours, textures and patterns in preparation for designing my new summer styles.

I take delight in the variety of fibres, their properties and counties of origin…. then delight again when the right person turns up to purchase the hat.



Rosie Boylan has built an amazing career out of hats. She’s created some of the most beautiful headwear you’ve seen for movies like The Great Gatsby, Australia and Moulin Rouge. Now, Rosie sells her creations from her shop in Newtown and continues to be kept very busy with private commissions. The Living Room Theatre is delighted to announce that in March Rosie Boylan will be one of the collaborators on She Only Barks at Night.



Recently I have been been working with Bilum weaving communities in the Papua New Guinea highlands, developing handicraft products  for export, connecting regional co-operatives to international markets.



“Collaborating with emerging Australian design talent keeps me in step with contemporary fashion, and has been one of my professional pathways since the 1980’s" says Rosie Boylan at hatsbyrosieboylan