As my wardrobe changed in the last year, my interest in hats arisen, along with the outfits I could mix them in. Therefore, when I found this Jan Jan Van Essche wide brim hat, it seemed a good choice for my clothes: the design is a mix of western and peasantwear, with a brim measuring 7 cm from the crown and an overall diameter of about 34 centimeters ( 13.3 inches ).
For the uninitiated, Jan Jan Van Essche is a Belgian designer focusing strictly on menswear who launched his first collection in 2011, and he has won the Dries Van Noten design award. Van Essche works in a peculiar way, producing only one collection per year with each garment and accessory strongly linked to each other, permitting the wearer to adapt to every season as they pass by and also creating an embracing aesthetic.
Interior of the hat – there is no lining, just the designer tag and another one with the history behind the handcrafting of this item.
The construction is something I’ve never seen before in headwear, made of a structured shape of dried woven grass covered in alpaca felt, in its undyed natural black color. The texture varies from the spots where the warm and chaotic fibers of the alpaca felt cover the hats in a deep black, to the patches where we get a glimpse of the almost geometrical dried grass pattern, characterized by a color that resembles the palette of a wicker chair. Worth mentioning are the little details that give personality to this Jan Jan Van Essche garment, like the tag on the inside with the explanation of the process put into the realization of this hat, along with the lady who crafted it ( Ann Gallard, from the Belgian city of Antwerp, the same where JJVA was born ) and some tips of grass that come out from the black cotton candy that is the alpaca felt.
As for its mixing with other garments, I think this Jan Jan Van Essche wide brim hats complements well various styles; obviously it gives its best with avant-guard pieces in the likes of Paul Harnden, but in my opinion it also pairs greatly with a sixties vibe look or even in a streetwear/western mix with some kind of lightly weaved poncho, especially for summer. Due to the choice of materials, the hat seems quite fragile, but I’ll definitely post a full review on itself with info regarding how it holds after lot of wear and some full-body fitpics on how I incorporated it them in the month to come, so stay tuned if you like.
Aerial view of the hat.
Side view of the hat.
Detail of the texture: notice the mix of alpaca felt and woven grass.