by Miranda Hilderbrand
It is no secret that a haberdashery is not something you come across every day. We get questions such as what exactly do you carry to what is the history of the term to, simply, what is a haberdashery?
A few weeks ago a gentleman came into our shop asking this very question. He told us that upon hearing of Hatbox, he did a google search on what a haberdashery actually is. Google gave these two definitions:
A Haberdasher’s shop
The goods and wares sold by a haberdasher.
And if you look up the term “haberdasher” it comes up as “one who works in a haberdashery”. This does not help at all! Upon hearing this, we knew it was time to give a proper to answer to this question.
While we can trace back several centuries of haberdasheries, the origin of the term is unknown. There is one belief that the word could have been derived from an Anglo-Norman word, hapertas, which means small ware. The word “haberdasher” did appear in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to describe peddlers who sold items such as needles, buttons and so on. This dates the word back at least to the late 14th century and definitely ties it to the Anglo-Norman roots it may have come from.
A haberdashery was originally an all-purpose specialty-clothing store for men that focused on accessory items such as hats, gloves and scarves as well as notions such as buttons, needles and thread. This would be the equivalent of a Medieval five-and-dime store. There has been one description of a 16th century English haberdashery that specialized not only in accessories but also drinking glasses, birdcages, mousetraps and shoe horns.
Today the term has several definitions depending on how the word is used. In the United Kingdom, a haberdashery is more of a craft and sewing shop that carries needed items such as buttons, thread or ribbons. Here in America, the term has become associated almost exclusively with hats and hat accessories. Today a modern haberdashery will cater to men and women with most hats being unisex in their design. Many, including Habox, also carry such items as gloves, suspenders and umbrellas.
The origin of the haberdashery may be shrouded in mystery but there are many notable haberdasheries of the 1600’s – 1900’s that we use to define ourselves today. It is with this spirit that Habox has created its own take on a modern haberdashery. We still honor the knowledge and history of our forefathers yet have added our own unique spin and strong passion for hats. From our custom styles to our expert fittings, we work with you to find that perfect hat and might surprise you with the perfect bow-tie, sunglasses, or scarf to complete the look!