Mr Spielberg called in for a hat!
Before London milliner Herbert Johnson joined Swaine Adeney Brigg, it was situated at 13 Old Burlington Street. One rather uneventful afternoon in 1980, two American gentlemen came in and introduced themselves as Mr. Harrison Ford and Mr. Steven Spielberg.
Little did we envision that the following conversation involving hats was going to produce the Indy Hat: one of the most instantly recognisable and iconic pieces of headwear. Mr. Spielberg announced that he was on the brink of making an adventure film with Harrison Ford as the central figure: Raiders of the Lost Ark. He revealed that a hat would be pivotal to the character and the plot. The salesperson courteously asked if there was a particular period involved.
As the visitors didn’t want anything too specific, he suggested employing the oldest hat shape still being manufactured and carried in open stock. A tall crowned, Herbert Johnson wide brim fur felt hat called The Poet was chosen. (It had been made continuously since the 1890’s and was deemed “ageless”). As Indiana Jones was to wear the hat in different terrains, a shade of brown called Sable was chosen.
Indiana Jones’ hat is born…
To make the Indy hat very distinctive, we shaped the brim into an ovoid to give protection to the eyes and neck – reducing the sides also helped with camera angles. The brim was pulled down to give an explorer/safari look, the original ribbon being changed from 50mm to 39mm, to make the tall crown appear even taller. When the Herbert Johnson hat reappeared from our workroom, it had been total transformed and the gentlemen from Hollywood seemed pleased.
We carefully noted what we had been done and made a template, just in case another was ever requested. The following week, we received an order for 45 Indy hats of assorted sizes, some for Mr. Ford and the remainder for the film stunt actors on the set of Raiders of The Lost Ark.
The original and the first Indy hat still made today
Since the huge success of the Indiana Jones films, we have had the pleasure of making dozens of Indy’s for fans of both Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford.
Each Indiana Jones hat is carefully cut by hand, using the original patterns. Each size is ever so slightly tailored to keep the hat in proportion to the wearer’s hat size and each Indy hat is hand-rubbed to give it its unique shape.
If you yearn for film star looks, this could be the hat for you…