by Miranda Hilderbrand
Whether you are an Austinite, have visited our great city or have merely heard of our reputation, you know about South by Southwest (or SXSW as it is more widely known). The first South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival was held in 1987 here in Austin, Texas. While Austin was not in the Top 20 media market at the time, our unique character and our longstanding status as the Live Music Capital of the World made us the perfect location for such an event. In 1994, Film and Interactive Media were added to the conference. This addition was such a success that, in 1995, there are now three main categories for the festival: SXSW Music, SXSW Film and SXSW Multimedia or Interactive.
SXSW continues to grow in size with festivities, this year lasting from March 8 until March 17. One thing that has remained consistent throughout the history of the conference is the hats! Hatbox: A Modern Haberdashery has participated in the festivities for the past 26 years. Located on 6th Street across from the historic Driskill Hotel, we are right in the middle of all of the excitement of SXSW.
Each year, thousands swarm to our humble hat shop seeking hat knowledge, a unique souvenir from their stay in Austin and to satisfy their curiosity as to what we do at a modern haberdashery. And, who knows, you may even spot a few celebrities in store. We have had the honor of hatting many.
One really great thing about hats is they will get you noticed and will help you be remembered. As SXSW offers so many wonderful opportunities for networking at various conferences, parties and so on, you definitely want to be remembered and photographed looking sharp! At Hatbox, we can help you find the perfect piece to help you stand out in this crowd.
If you are a musician, why not try a pork pie? This classic hat has its roots back to the Jazz Era in 1920s New Orleans. There are many to choose from in straw or felt. One hat that is a definite Haberdasher favorite is our Mannes and Billy collection for Bailey of Hollywood. Both of these styles are fairly low-crowned as most pork pies are, but it has the crown shape of a fedora. These hats are all sewn braid so they will breathe very well in the Texas heat and the brim can stay curled up or can be flipped down into that classic fedora shape. We have many different colors available ranging from solid black to a sky blue as well as multi-color styles in various colors.
Are you attending SXSW as more of a film buff? Take a cue from the stars of classic cinema and don your timeless fedora. We have very classic, wide brimmed fedoras in wool as well as fur felts from Stetson Dress and Borsalino that are very Mad Men and Old Hollywood-esque. We also carry more stingy brim and trilby fedoras that are a more modern take on the style. Each fedora has it’s own unique style and we have dozens of different styles and designs.
Attending the more high brow events and parties? Nothing will steal the show quite like a top hat. From lower-crowned Coachman top hat to the tall Mad Hatter, we have many styles available in felt or straw. Of course, if the gentlemen are wearing top hats, the ladies need fascinators. We have some wonderful, locally made fascinators by Austin’s own Milli Starr that are the perfect accessory for any event.
Wanting a unique souvenir to remember your stay in Austin? Western hats and Texas go hand-in-hand. One hat that always steals the show is our Hatbox original shaped Westerns. Each of these hats are shaped in-store by our haberdashers. You can get the hats in two finishes, clean (the original blank canvas) or dirted. The dirted hats are colored using, you guessed it, Texas dirt from local ranches and even the State Capitol here in Austin. One event we feel a cowboy hat is an absolute must for SXSW is the BBQ crash course at Brush Square Park. This event happens on opening day from 11am until 1pm, there is that certain something about Texas BBQ that make you need to don something western and our hat converts any outfit for the occasion.
With all of the fun and excitement of SXSW, don’t forget to take in a few Austin originals, including Austin’s local iconic haberdashery. We have nearly every style of hat imaginable and have pieces perfect for all seasons. We offer custom fittings, have vast knowledge of hat history and we just plain love to talk about hats! We really hope you enjoy this year at SXSW and remember to visit your favourite haberdasher at either Hatbox location.