La Marqueza was founded with the specific goal to prevent the impending extinction of the art of fine hat weaving in Montecristi plus offer the best selection of top quality Panama Hats made in my country Ecuador to export them around the world.
It all started because my great grandfather was one of the builders of the Panama Canal! So, it was natural for me the desire to know more about all the histories around the Panama Canal build, then, surprisingly I arrived to the Panama Hat history and the name origin. However, it was not until I went to the town of Montecristi when I felt in love with this art of weaving hats. I met the few craftsmen that are still living there (many of them have left Ecuador looking for a better life abroad), they told me about how difficult it is for their families to live just from weaving hats, and it was at that moment that I understood that my mission was to save this art that has been handed down generation after generation, for centuries. My first thought was “I must buy lots of hats to increase the demand and help them, If I buy lots of hats, I must also sell lots of hats”, it was then that the business was born.
We cannot deny that the hat's name is derived from its popularity during the building of Panama Canal. But actually they are, and have always been made in Ecuador, which I feel very proud of it as Ecuadorian.
On the other hand, it is lamentable that this legendary art of the hat weaving is diminishing year by year. In order to save it, weavers and craftsmen must earn better pay or soon they will have to leave their traditional art to start to work in other regular jobs.
Customers who want to buy genuine Montecristi hats need to understand why the hats are so valuable, not only because of their monetary value, but also because its social impact, behind of them there is a lot of manual work and of course, a family that needs to live from it.
The hats are entirely hand woven in the same manner since centuries. But not all the children are interested in learning how to weave hats. There are only about 10 remaining craftsmen in the world that can make hats that live up to the best standard, which is reflected in the premium you’ll have to pay for one. Some top Extra-finos (Ultra finos) sell for upwards of $20,000!
Unfortunately, some buyers don’t know what to look for in a great Panama hat, maybe because they don’t know much about this art or because they just want to follow a summer trend and don’t care so much about quality, the work and expertise for making it. So often, poorly woven hats and imitations are purchased by tourists and customers looking for a the cheap “deal.” This simply encourages poor weaving hats and you can find them everywhere.
Experience the difference with a hat by La Marqueza Hats
Our founder Maria Jose always buys hats directly from the weavers. She carefully selects the hats one by one in Ecuador and even uses a magnifying glass especially for Montecristi hats from the 'Extra Fine' category, because these hats are very thin or fine to just count the straw stitches per inch with the naked eye.
During the purchase process, La Marqueza Hats exercises the fair trade. Maria Jose and her team make sure the weavers receive the fair pay that is necessary for the art survive.
What are the principle characteristics of a hat by La Marqueza Hats?
- We sell only genuine Panamas fully hand woven and personally handpicked in Ecuador
- All hat bodies have been woven exclusively for La Marqueza Hats
- No chemicals are used in the finishing process of our hats
- Special conditioning process
- Highest quality thread, ribbons and gold metallic branded logo