A Hatful of Style

Goorin Brothers Hat Shop has you covered

Saturday, February 15, 2014 | 3:49 pm

Look at any photograph of an American urban scene from the 30s through the very early 60s, and there is one distinct similarity to them. The vast majority of the men in the photos are wearing hats. Fedoras, flat caps, wide-brimmed and short, perched on the head of an executive, or stuffed in the back pocket of a working man’s jeans, it was a world of men in hats.

Jazz musicians of the 40s and 50s, black and white, wore the ubiquitous porkpie hat with a short or “stingy” brim, while 50s and 60s New York City ad men wore one variation or another of the Fedora, preferably with a feather to set it off.

Fewer men seriously wear them today, unless it’s a 30 year old who has yet to grasp the idea that a baseball cap worn backwards stops working as a “look” after 12. Then there are the follically-challenged who collect hats as protection from a retreating hairline. (Not a good idea. Let it breathe.)

Yet through every twist and turn, the Goorin Brothers hat company has been topping the heads of stylish men and woman making a statement of their own.
Cassel Gorrin, the patriarch of the Goorin family began making hats and selling them from a horse cart in Pittsburgh in the late 1800s, and established the company in 1895.

He used custom wooden hat blocks to shape his distinct creations, creating individual looks for each of his customers. He taught his two sons, Alfred and Ted, the trade in 1921, and the company became known as the Goorin Brothers Hat Company. Cassel’s great-grandson, has run the company since 2006, and its Pasadena store opened in Old Pasadena in 2011.

Says Rachel Thompson, the assistant shopkeeper for the Pasadena location, “We are very family-oriented here. We are all an extension of the Goorin family, and we are very supportive of creative individuals in every way.”

In the nineties when the youth culture was as much about looking back as looking forward, the company found that all of its hats were finding favor once again, and an expansion in the number of stores began.

Even during the 60s, when hair was more important than hats, artists of a certain distinction managed to rise above the rest, with a distinctive topping.

“Look at Jimi Hendrix, and his floppy hat,” said Thompson. “That was a statement.”

The company sells hats of all designs from the “Breaking Bad Eisenberg” to the pedestrian baseball and trucker caps, if you really must, but their stock in trade is the distinctive and stylish hat constructed from top-quality felted wool, still made in their factories in Pennsylvania. There is also a range of hats for the little ones as well.

As Thompson put it, “We always say, “There’s a hat for every head.’”

Goorin Brothers Hat Shop is at 49 W. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. (626) 440-1895. www.goorin.com


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