What Are Panama Hats?

The history of the panama hat, like the Ecuadorians who weave them, stretches back to a time before technology, when an item was created by skilled hands. To a time when craft was perfected into art.

Made from toquilla palm (Carludovica palmata), panama hats are renowned worldwide for their lightweight, breathable nature. Available in a myriad of qualities, colors and patterns, each hat is unique-just like the artisan who wove them.  
But why is it called a "panama"? 
A common misnomer, these hats are actually woven in Ecuador, and not Panama. Many products, including these hats woven from toquilla palm, were shipped to the Isthmus of Panama before being loaded onto boats and finding their final destination miles away. In turn, these exceptional hats took on the term "panama" not for their origin of manufacture, but their shipping port instead. Further more to solidify the name "panama", Franklin Theodore Roosevelt, upon his inspection of the Panama Canal, was photographed in one of these hats. 
And the legend of the Panama hat was born...
What makes a genuine Panama hat?
In order for a hat to be called a "genuine Panama" a few criteria must be met. The hat must be woven in Ecuador, by hand using toquilla palm. 
Are all Panama hats the same?
Absolutely not. Panama hats are all unique, like those who weave them. Based upon the time taken to weave the hat and the weavers skill, you will notice a vast range of prices on the market. A less expensive hat takes less time to weave and finish than one woven by a Master Weaver.