Longtime friends, Linsay Radcliffe and Lindsay McConnon, bonded over a shared love for hats, adventure and ... the utter frustration by the lack of luggage solutions for protecting high-quality hats (you know, kind of like when they get completely ruined in an overhead compartment). While living in San Francisco, the duo founded their label, The Freya Brand, where their handmade hat boxes, leather goods and hats fall nothing short of authentic and luxurious.
Oh, and did we mention they're popping-up at our newly opened showroom next Wednesday, October 24th? Read our interview with the ladies behind the brand and get to know them before you see them in person!
What inspired The Freya Brand to source/make its straw hats in Ecuador?
The finest straw Panamas come from Cuenca, Ecuador so there was no question about where to produce our first straw hats collection. The palms for our hats are picked by villagers in the forrest and then given to the weaving artisans who make them in their homes. The weaving techniques are passed down within families for generations. For example, there are only two women known to be able to make certain weaves, like the type used in our Indigo Hat.
Thoughts on artisanal technique in Latin America? How were the proper artisans found to follow through with brand's mission?
It is irreplaceable and we take great pride in preserving the craft of weaving and working with artisans. A straw hat made in China is not the same as a Panama hat woven in Ecuador. The materials are different (often made from paper) and the hats are sewn together by machine. In a world saturated with cheap, imported goods from industrial factories overseas, it's important to preserve the techniques and craftsmanship of small, indigenous cultures. The work that's created stands the test of time and is treasured, rather than expendable. We chose our partners in Ecuador because of the quality of their work and because they're kind and good people who support local communities.
How exactly are The Freya Brand's hats made?
The straw hat that is used in our Panama hats, commonly known as toquilla, is located in the tropical jungles of the Ecuadorian Coast. This raw material is transformed into yarn and then used to weave the hat. Often the hat is boiled in large "pails," and is dried and stripped. These steps involve highly skilled techniques and knowledge that's been passed down for many generations. The hat's bodies are then washed in hot water and often dyed to a specific color. The washing, bleaching and dying process also rids the straw of any impurities.
What are some pieces from Cooperativa Shop that would go great with any of The Freya Brand's hats?