Anatomy of Design: 18 Waits

The Tig Archives 08 / 06 / 2014

Lord knows I love a hat. If you check out my Instagram on any given day, you’re apt to find me in the same panama hat and aviators that I’ve been hiding under for a few years. So I thought it might be time for a change. Cue the cool, weathered, one of a kind hats you’ll find at 18 Waits. Founded in 2009, owner and designer Dan Torjman envisioned a line of jewelry, clothing and accessories that was well crafted, high quality, and felt lived in. Safe to say he can check that off the list. It’s as though every piece of his collection tells a story – of heritage and community. I went to the 18 Waits studio to learn about the design process that turns a simple straw hat into a labor of love – utilizing natural fibres, supporting local artisans, and ending up (quite happily) on your head. The devil is in the details.

Dan on The Hat Process

So for these hats, like many things we design and make, we try to make it look timeless and classic. Our products are brand new – but often times they look like they’ve been handed down to you from your stylish grandfather. At least we go for that aesthetic in the fabrics we choose or the distressing we do to our accessories. We wanted these hats in particular to look well worn. It’s hard to find great hats and I think part of that has to do with the fact that great hats often times look better once they’re worn in and have some character to them. (I would say the same goes for a good pair of boots…). So I thought about how I’d like my hat to look if it were 30 years old. And that’s what I envisioned. We make them look like they have a good story to tell – that they’ve been through a lot. Of course, once it’s yours, it’s best you continue your hat’s journey in your own way and add your own stories to it’s worn past.

1. We give specs to the hat manufacturer on the details we’d like: brim length, crown height, detail highlights (like the diamond pattern on the sides) and they send us blank “raw” hats based on these specs.

2. We then take these hats to The Devil’s Workshop to burn them with the blowtorch. Each hat is burned individually – one at a time – by us. So no two are ever alike. It’s a fun process, actually – and quite calming. It’s almost like painting. Only with fire & burn marks!

3. After the hats are custom burned we add our own bands and feathers to them. In this case it’s a natural organic rope we double loop around and knot.

4. The band is then hand stitched to the hat at 4 different points around the brim. We then add some thick red thread stitches, as a “signature detail” to the band, by the feather and it’s almost ready to go.

5. Lastly, we then shape & beat it up a bit to ensure it looks well worn and cottage ready… Enjoy!