The hat is made with a very high quality of fur felt — that is to say, rabbit fur, put under pressure and steam, again and again, until it becomes a soft and pliable material. The felt is then blocked into hat shape, and brushed, and makes for a comfortable and surprisingly warm companion for heads.
In its original state, the hat looks rather like a bowler. Pinch, push, or pull the crown, though, and you have a fedora, or a homburg, or a shape of your own invention. The nature of the felt is unique, see, in that it can be moulded, again and again, before being popped back into its initial bowler shape.
The hat has a traditional semi-fixed brim, which may also be manipulated to different shapes and angles. It is a fairly neat, small brim — so is especially suitable for the large or long or inflated of head. By default, as seen here, it has a gentle curve, which is pleasingly imperfect, and belies its handmade nature.
It is worth pointing that this is a hat of the highest standard. With care — cleaned every now and then, treated to a gentle steam, picked up only by the brim and not the crown — it will last a lifetime. Taken to a hatter, on the off-chance you have one nearby, and it can be restored to as-good-as-new condition.
The outer band — finished in an elongated bow shape — is made with the same fur felt as the rest of the hat, with a grosgrain tie through its centre. The idea with this band is that it breaks up the shape of the hat and straddles the connection between crown and brim.
Stitched inside the hat, though with not a stitch-mark in sight, is a thick satin lining. The material feels better against the scalp — always smooth, always cool — and helps to preserve the condition of the felt and the structure of the hat.
The inner headband of the hat is made from soft brown leather. It is not only comfortable against the brow, but it also add some reassuring sturdiness to proceedings. There's some useful gold-leaf embossed size information stamped onto the band, too. It is held down with a classic zigzag stitch.
The chap here has a head well above average size, and thus is wearing a size XL.
This here is a man of many hats. To be more precise, he is a man of many same but different hats. Though each hat is identical, the one second from top is a trilby. Three from bottom is a homburg. At the top, a bowler. The flexible quality of fur-felt, see, permits a different hat shape every day of the week.
The one-handed blocking of a trilby-like shape here: a casual pinch of the fingers and depression of the thumb and the indentation is complete. And that's just the crown; the brim can be manipulated, too. Imagine what could be achieved with some time and practice.
The hat is made by the last hat-maker — "proper" hat-maker, that is, as in felted and blocked and brimmed — still left in Britain, and one of only a handful in the world. The factory has made hats since George III was a lad, and many of the methods for hand-making hats of the highest quality are the same then as now.
In the most simple of terms, a traditional hat comes about from skilled handiwork, an array of cast-iron contraptions, and lots and lots of steam. From the transforming of fur into felt, the shaping of the initial "hood", the blocking of the crown, the curling of the brim — those are the key ingredients.
Some very skilful machine work comes into play when the hat is to be finished. Finishing a proper hat, indeed, entails a great deal of such stitching — to attach the satin lining, the hatband, and outer band, and so on. A mark of the best-made hats, tellingly, is that almost none of this stitching is visible.