Arts + Culture

World's Best Bespoke Souvenirs

by Colleen Clark

Panama Hats in Ecuador

In tropical heat, there's nothing more useful than a Panama hat—which is why they were a favored accessory during construction of the Panama Canal. But if you want the real deal, you'll have to head south, far south, of Panama to Ecuador. For centuries, meticulous weavers around Montecristi, and later in the colonial city of Cuenca, have made these iconic hats. You can get a window into that process at Barranco's, a Cuenca factory that has been producing Panamas since 1942. Although it takes 1,000 hours to create a Super Fino—the Cadillac of hats, with a fine silk-linen texture—raw hats can be fitted and customized in one to two days. You'll have a choice of band and can even select what shape the indentation on top of your hat should take. The weave is fine enough to allow you to roll and pack your hat in your suitcase, but why not wear it on the plane? If it was good enough for FDR and Cary Grant, it's good enough for you.

Barranco's Panama Hat Factory
10–41 Calle Larga
Cuenca, Ecuador
Tel: 593 097 486 276
Custom hats from $100

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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