Our itinerary took us across Ecuador. We started in the tropical Pacific coastal region where we traced the source of the unique toquilla straw used in our hats. The plants used in our production are organically grown and have been sustainably harvested for over a 100 years from a community owned plantation. This ecological cultivation provides income to the community whilst encouraging biodiversity and preserving the environment for future generations.
We then followed the trail up into the Andean highlands to the mountain villages where our hats are handwoven by our talented weavers. Hat weaving is an integral part of the lives of our weavers. It forms the basis of their livelihood, as well as imparting identity with the hat being used daily as part of their traditional dress. The transmission of hat weaving techniques has been passed within the home from generation to generation and dates back 6000 years. Weaving a Panama Hat is high craft and it embodies the cultural traditions of the people of Ecuador. To build on this, weaving has been designated an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO.