Rabbit vs. Beaver vs. Wool
Since the release of our Three Horses rabbit felt hats, we’ve received a lot of questions about the difference between rabbit and beaver felt. We thought we’d give you a quick rundown:
Most fast-fashion brand hats are made from wool felt. It’s the kind of cheap hat you can find at Urban Outfitters or Target, and it’s not really made to last. It’ll quickly lose its shape from rain or sweat and is difficult (sometimes impossible) to have reshaped, re-blocked, or customized. Three Horses doesn’t offer wool felt hats.
Rabbit fur felt is more durable than wool felt, if a bit more expensive. It’s light-weight, able to be reshaped, re-blocked, and customized (many entry-level Stetson-brand hats are fur felt) . However, it’s not water-resistant, so rain or sweat can wear out and sometimes even stain your hat body. Three Horses' rabbit felt hat bodies are a great option for someone looking for their first hat, or a “special occasion” hat — something you may not want to wear everyday, but still makes a statement when you do.
Three Horses' flagship hats are made from beaver fur felt. Beaver fur felt is made from the undercoat of beaver skins, meaning its naturally water-resistant. Additionally, it’s more durable than other felts (especially ones that may be made from blends), meaning that when you buy a beaver fur felt hat, you’re buying a hat that will last a generation.
Hand-Shaped: What does it mean?
Hat makers receive their hat bodies raw (rough and un-sanded) and unshaped. After sanding (to smooth out the hat body), dying, and distressing, milliners need to shape the hat body -- that is, trim the brim to the desired size and add the correct shape (diamond, teardrop, etc.) to the crown (the place where your head goes.
Some hat makers use hat shapers, or blocks, to obtain their desired shape. It involves purchasing and maintaining a shelf of pre-made templates that, while a time-saver, create a by-the-numbers hat-making process. They'll typically be found in mass-produced hats. At best, they limit the ability of the hat maker to apply their personal touch and expertise and, at worst, destroy the connection between the hatter and their craft.
At Three Horses Hat Co., we hand-shape our hats. After sanding, dying, and distressing, we cut and shape the crown and brim by hand from start to finish. This allows us to make a completely-custom hat and keeps us connected to our craft and to the tradition of hat-making that came before us.