The year is 1890. Vincent van Gogh shoots himself in the chest. Oscar Wilde publishes “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Man Ray is born in Philadelphia. And the modern woman? She wears Paris chic and a corset, still. The German man of the times looks to the Englishman as his role model. Away with the cumbersome necktie! Bring on the new hat. The bowler and top hats now dominate men’s fashion, at least in the city. And what’s going on in Allgäu? Brothers Markus and Gottfried Seebeerger found what will become the world renowned hat manufacture.
Initially, only elaborately hand-crafted fedora hats made from straw are produced. Unfortunately, only for men in the beginning, with the ladies left waiting a whole 45 years empty handed. More than 125 years later, Seeberger is still a hat manufacture and in family hands in its fourth generation. The focus today is on the women’s collection. The company is successful in over 40 countries as true craftsmanship, tradition, and excellent design just never go out of fashion. Elegant style is simply timeless. Just as a beautiful hat or any other accessory made by Seeberger.
No wonder the craziest character in Alice in Wonderland is the Madhatter. That is because it takes a small portion of madness to pursue this craft, and that for over 125 years. Hatmaking has enjoyed a long tradition in the Allgäu, as active trade with northern Italy also brought the knowledge of processing straw to the region. Initially, only very simple hats were woven for harvest, with economic success steadily growing thereafter. Shortly before the turn of the century, hat production witnessed its first period of prosperity in which the Seeberger brothers were also able to establish themselves..
Back then, a straw hat originated from a so-called cone which was woven at home by hand. This is what the people in the Allgäu mainly did on long and dark winter evenings to earn extra income. Afterwards, the hat-makers formed the finished cone into the desired shape. This same processed is still used today by the Seeberger hat manufacture.
The cones still consist of woven straw or felt but are now shipped directly from the producing countries. Once in the manufacture, they receive their final shape using handmade, wooden and metal templates, some of which date back 125 years. This requires adept skill as a hat can only be formed into proper shape by experienced hands. If the hat mould is too hot or the length of time too long, the material will burn. If the hat is pulled too short or too cold, it will not retain its shape. Good quality simply requires skill and experience.
Afterwards, the seams are set and the inner band, decorative stitching and individual trimming applied. Almost every step is performed using special machines, some of which have been used for over 100 years. The final steps involve gently brushing, steaming, polishing or striping and carefully applying decorative elements such as a hatband, fabric, buckle, emblem or feather. The finished hat is now ready to leave the Seeberger manufacture. Each individual piece is a special style statement that looks back on a 125 year tradition. Today, the hats are available in two to four collections each year in over 40 countries and are supplemented by knitted hats, scarves and other beautiful, warm accessories.
For the love of a hat, you have to be a bit mad.