Why are Panama hats so expensive?

Why are Panama hats so expensive?

The most emblematic and luxurious straw hats in the world are the Legendary Montecristi Hats and Genuine Panama Hats, misnamed in the international market as the Panama Hat but these iconic hats have actually originated in the country of Ecuador.

Five reasons why Montecristi and Genuine Panama Hats are so expensive

Elaboration time

A high quality hat can take from 4 weeks to up to a year to be made, being the whole process executed by hand from the beginning until the end by a master craftsman. This huge amount of work and skilful process takes several steps before reaching the final result, it starts with the harvesting of the the ‘Toquilla’ straw which is washed and dried; once the hat is woven, it goes through the bleaching or colouring and then another final washing and drying, until it gets the desired tone. 

Nonetheless, it is important to mention that the Panama hats do come with their minuscule share of irregularities and imperfections. This is inevitable since the hats are completely woven, trimmed and moulded by hand.

In a way, it is this imperfectness that characterises the allure of a Panama hat, making them a real testimony of the tenacity of the weaver towards inching closer to perfection – which ultimately holds the essence of the Montecristi and Genuine Panama hats.

Grades and low supply

All fine hats are classified by degrees or points in an inch, counted after the intersection of two cross-shaped straws, which gives rise to each fabric extending in great rows. This simply means the finer is the hat the more expensive it will be.

Then, there is the 'scarcity factor' due to the few people capable of weaving a real fino, superfino, extrafino and ultrafino hat, in fact, nowadays there are only a handful craftsmen left who still know how to make them.

Certificates and origin hallmarks

For a Montecristi hat to verify its originality, it must have:

  • Certification of Origin (original quality manufacture hallmark, inside the hat)
  • Unesco recognition
  • Authenticity Certification


It refers to the finish, its quality, softness and design.

In the specific case of La Marqueza Hats®, the company selects the hats one by one considering only the “first choice", this means that each hat is carefully examined and just the best crafted ones are chosen while others are left to the local market.

The final design is achieved by one master hatter in the UK, then tested and rated UPF50+ in laboratories in the United Kingdom, the highest rating achievable for any fabric in the world.

The use of wood moulds gives the hats a timeless style and symmetrical shape and other finishing materials like the high quality of grosgrain, ribbons and threads made in England, also count.

All this set of elements adds value to the handmade jewel, made with the best toquilla straw fibres in Ecuador, resulting in a companion that may last for decades when treated with the recommended care, thus representing a good investment.


La Marqueza Hats® exercise fair trade from the early stages of the provisioning process, connecting directly with the weavers making sure they receive the fair pay that recognises their unique craftsmanship, allowing the art to survive and helping them lead better lives. Paying them directly, helping weavers stay away from exploitation, ensuring the preservation of the culture and tradition behind these legendary hats.

The company has built a strong relationship with artisans, cutting out the exploiters middle men, guaranteeing the right compensation to the master craftsmen.