Originally Posted by iammatt
Any opinions on the various "high-end" hatters today that are discussed on the hat forum like Optimo, Brent Black and some other custom shops?
I do have some opinions of these and other hatters.
I think my first opinion is that they like individuals that run the shows are all unique and primarily self serving like most business men are.
My thoughts on Optimo is that they are a small commercial hat company that does some mid range custom work and are not high end at all in the felt market. I think comparativly they would range in the mid as far as price in their straw work. They build beautiful hats to look at and many folks think they are simply grand. I personally prefer to go beyond the look at factor of hats and prefer a higher end quality felt. To many this is not the primary concern. The opinions I have seen of Optimo are widely varied and few fence straddlers among them. I think of them as an assest to the hatters community as they offer something of precieved value for a given price and seem to satisfy more than they dissapoint and they seem to have a grasp of what prices is fair for the quality of material and wormanship they offer.
Brent Black is not a hatter but is a very skilled marketing agent that offers a well thought out program for the distribution of finely and not so finely woven hats. He to my knowledge has never been completly satisfied with any of the hatters that have blocked his hats and styled them and that is a good thing mostly as it means that the man cares about the product that bears his name. When you consider he has tried out about all the well known hatters out there with the best reputations at one time or another speaks loudly about the level of product he is producing. He has also done his homework and paid his dues in the villages and towns in Ecuador and has carved out a pretty fair niche market for a very high ended product. His marketing genius has allowed him to tell a grand story to go along with a great product and if you have 30 grand to spend on a straw hat, then I think he or Milton Johnson either or will fix you up same as they do the movie star clientelle they now serve so well.
The other high end hatters I have observed as well all seem to produce something of precieved value and tried to satisfy the market they cater to and seem to continue to have more satisfied clients than dissatified ones.
I think being in the high end market affords you the luxury of choosing to offer the ultimate in product and service to the clients you choose to work with and blow off the ones you choose not to work with. Blowing them off is not an evil thing but often a humantarian thing as you need to choose clients that you can develop a relationship with and some times the chemisty is just not there.
I personally could not ever see us working with some of the very high end fashion conscience folks that exist and have a budget to afford what they choose as we are traditional hatters and do not know how to speak the hip or mod or what ever the flavor of the month language is about such things and trends.
Point being is to choose your hatter as carefully as your hatter may choose you and then I think price will have little to do with the equasion and if it does then likely you are not going to have a very harmonious relationship with any Besoke provider for anything.
Limited budgets often lend to limited shoping oppertunites and mostly off the shelf items.
Back to your question, I am not sure others are necessarily like Optimo or Brent per se but I am full of opinions if you have companies to inquire about or hats in general as well as the global and local hat markets generally.