Willee Roberts, Hampui Medicine Hats. (Janie Cai)

The Mad Hatters: An Ode to San Francisco's Marvelous Milliners

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Tip your chapeau to three of the city's best hat makers—from the modern and mysterious to the San Francisco classics.


Paul’s Hat Works

Historic vibes and toppers galore at Paul's Hat Works.

(Janie Cai)

Founded in 1918, Paul's Hat Works is a gem of a place and should be a San Francisco must-see, if only for its extensive collection of vintage hat molds and hat-related memorabilia. The hats are all made onsite, in a workshop located behind the main counter, by owner Abbie Dwelle and her two millinery apprentices. There, materials such as rabbit fur and beaver fur are hand-shaped to exactly fit a customer's head, and finished hats awaiting collection line the interiors of the wooden display cabinets. The fine straw hats, which are sourced from Ecuador, are equally impressive—we spotted a stunning Montecristi Panama hat during our visit, with a superfine weave of toquilla palm leaves that would leave most hat aficionados giddy with desire.


On average, each hat takes six to eight weeks from start to completion, with prices depending on the materials used. Their current best-seller, The Financial District, sports a wider brim on a classic silhouette, while The Fillmore (with its slightly narrower brim) comes in close second in terms of popularity. The original Paul may no longer be around, but Paul's Hat Work still fills the gap for high quality handmade hats that are meant to last a lifetime. // Paul's Hat Works, 6128 Geary St. (Outer Richmond), hatworksbypaul.com

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