Turning heads— Global


Mühlbauer in Vienna creates headwear in the age-old way. The business was saved from the brink of collapse by the brother and sister owners and their designs are now sold internationally.

Hats, Vienna, business, design, hat, making

Tucked away on the first floor of a non-descript residential building in central Vienna’s Schwedenplatz is an atelier housing an old-school hatter and milliner. “We are crazy to make hats like this again but the results are totally different by hand. Most industrially made hats are put straight into a press, which destroys the materials,” says 41-year-old co-owner Klaus Mühlbauer.

Klaus runs Mühlbauer, a family firm that was founded by his great grandmother, Julianna, in 1903. Today its styles, including two-tone Panama hats and hunting-inspired…

Five top hat shops

01 Borsalino, Milan
For the gold standard in Italian hat-making turn to Borsalino where there are classic designs aplenty and craftsmanship is guaranteed. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, 92, Milan, borsalino.com

02 Cappeleria Viarani Elvira, Torino
The Piemonte region’s oldest established hat shop and manufacturer sells brands such as Lock, Stetson and Marzi. 27, c. Vittorio Emanuele, Torino, viarani-cappelli-torino.com

03 La Cerise sur le Chapeau, Paris
Have a hat handmade by master milliner Cherry Bentz in this 6th arrondissement workshop where each piece is made on aluminium moulds using a technique called “à la pédale”. You can choose the colour of felts for winter or straw for summer and also the ribbon bands. 11, rue Cassette, Paris, lacerisesurlechapeau.com/fr/

04 CA4LA, Tokyo and London
Pronounced Ka-shi-la, this Tokyo-based hat brand employs over a dozen designers who create everything from berets to baseball caps. CA4LA has 18 shops in Japan and one in London. 23 Pitfield Street, London, N1; Harajuku Komiya Bldg 1F/2F, 6-29-4, Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, ca4la.com

05 Sombrerería Mil, Barcelona
Hours can be whiled away trying on hats in this Barcelona shop selling year-round headwear. There’s a choice selection of Panamas, cosy fur-felt trilbys from brands such as Goorin Brothers and Betmar New York. Fontanella, 20, Barcelona, sombrereriamil.com

A heads up on hat making

01 - Hat moulds

Hundreds of wooden hat moulds line the shelves of the Schwedenplatz atelier. One mould can be used for three different hat sizes.

02- Blocking

Fur felt or straw cones are placed on wooden moulds and fixed with cords and nails. Felt is steamed and stretched before it is blocked by a hatter.

03- Into the oven

Once the hat has been blocked it is placed in an oven on the mould for up to three hours at a temperature of about 70C to 80C to firm its shape.

04- The decoration

Ribbons, linings and other decorative details are attached by hand by the milliners. This process is called trimming.


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