The Fashion Folk S01 ep4 : Patrick Lamb, James Lock Hats, [London]
Interview with Maxim Voznesensky
The bowler hat was originally invented for land owners who had these who had these beaters who worked the land. They kept having their hats knocked off in the undergrowth, not only that thay kept having their head scratched by briars, so they wanted a hard fitting hat to the head. The Top Hat came from France. It landed on our shores in 1798 and it started off in an area called Charing Cross and it was brought to us by John Heatherington. It caused a great fuss when it was first worn, even the horses reared up at the sight of it. Women fainted in the street.
KM: What is James Lock?
In fact it is a hat shop. You can still trace the family lineage. It came down on
the female side, Mary Lock inherited the business.
KM: Where was the shop located back in those days?
Opposite this establishment here. In those days the upper class used to walk
up and down this side of the street, they still do, because the sun shines more
on this side than the other side, and people gravitate towards the sun.
Originally is was a Pub called the Cock Inn and it became vacant in the late
1600's and it was modernised in 1764 and we have not touched it since,
except for electricity. If Lord Nelson came in today he would recognise the
KM: What did you do before this?
I was a banker for 25 years.
KM: You were a banker, and you decided to get into hats?
Yes I decided to .... well yes, because I like dealing with the public.
KM: When a gentleman for a lady for that matter comes into a shop like this
how do you know what suits them or doesn't suit them?
Well the first thing we like to do is we talk to them and make them feel at
home, we ask them about their background, and where they come from, and
we also ask them what they want. If they don't know what they want, we tell
them what we think will suit them. With men, it is question about getting the
balance right between the actual shape of the hat and the physique of the
person. You wouldn't want a small gentleman who is about 5' 2" going out in a
wide brim Fedora, because he would draw attention to himself in the wrong
way. People would look at him and say what is that little guy doing in that big
KM: What a moron!
KM: So what would you recommend for a 5' 2" chap wanting a Fedora?
I would recommend a very small Trilby hat, with a narrow brim, which will give
balance to his overall physique, so that they look at the whole image not just a
hat on top of a head.
KM: What is the significance of the Bowler Hat?
The bowler hat was originally invented for landowners who had these beaters
who worked the land. They kept having their hats knocked off in the
undergrowth, not only that they kept having their head scratched by briars, so
they wanted a hard fitting hat to the head. That was the origin of bowler - it
was called a cote in those days.
KM: Yes but you mean to tell me that a hat that looks as elegant as that used
to be worn by someone
KM: .....plodding along in the bushes.
Yes, because it was practical. It was shell like, you see, and they gave the
KM: What was the next step up in the hat world?
A top hat.
KM: A top Hat!
KM: You have a top hat to show us?
KM: But you wouldn't wear a top hat everywhere would you?
To go to work, Oh yes, the stock brokers wore them up to 1970. The Governor
of the Bank of England used to wear one to work everyday.
KM: If the Bowler Hat came from people beating around in the bush, where did
the Top Hat come from?
The Top Hat came from France. It landed on our shores in 1798. It started off
in an area called Charing Cross, which is in the heart of London about a mile
from where we are now, and it was brought to us by a gentleman called John
Hetherington. It caused a great fuss when it was first worn, even the horses
reared up at the sight of it.
Yes, they had never seen anything like that on a head. And a few women
fainted in the street.
yes, small boys ran away in terror.
The Top Hat 1798 and the Bower 1851.
KM: So these are the two stages of British Hathood?
Yes, they were the two stages of British Hathood but then they had younger
siblings that came along in the 1920's and the 1930's such as the Trilby and
the Fedora. This is the Trilby hat. It is usually worn by the everyday public
because it is an ideal hat, it travels very well. It has certain little advantages
like you crush it up. If someone sits on it is not the end of the world as you
know it, If you want to carry it in an aeroplane or when travelling you can roll it
up in a tube put an elastic band around it and stuff it in your pocket - it is the
most practical hat we've got. Also very popular with war correspondents
because after 3 or 4 wearings with a bit of dust on it, it looks like it has been to
hell and back.
KM: Really - so it is an Indiana Jones type of hat?
It is an Indiana Jones hat, it has very, very good street credits, and it looks
KM: What is the psychology of the hat?
The psychology of the hat was originally "a badge of office". People wore
different hat for different causes or different jobs, especially in the army. The
higher the rank, the more elaborate the gold, and lace you had on your hat.
Then they became practical and people just look good in a hat, it seemed to
complete their dress. The kiss of death for the hat was the car and president
KM: This is the Trilby hat and this is the Fedora - this is for the dandy?
This is for the Dandy, also for the guy who has a bigger physique, like 6' 3" -
He wouldn't look too good in a Trilby although we do have a wide brim Trilby to
cater for that sort of customer. But this....sometimes you get a guy who is an
artist and he wants to make a statement.
KM: Well why isn't Prince Charles wearing a hat?
He wears caps.
KM: Oh yes he does too.
He wears caps.
KM: What is the psychology of a cap versus a hat?
The cap is usually more of a traditional item, a lot of people who go shooting
KM: What about the things like the Panama hat?
Again we have a very wide range of Panama hats - ones you can roll up: the
super fine which are very very exquisitely made - we have those as well.
KM: What is a Panama hat, how does that work, is it for Bankers when they
are on holiday?
It is for everybody.
KM: So the Panama hat is the normal, everybody's hat - when they are in a
Exactly - we cater for everyone's taste from 75 pounds to 500 pounds.
These are Panama hats.
KM: That is one with a GT stripe right?
This is the best one you can get.
KM: Why is that?
Because it is made so finely, there are only about 11 guys in the world who
can make these and everybody who makes them …
KM: When you say make them, you mean the weave of the actual hat.
The weave is extremely fine - it is a family art and everybody who makes them
is so proud of his work and rightly so, he initials it. That authenticates the hat.
KM: How much is hat like that?
A hat like this would be 475 pounds.
KM: And what about a Top Hat?
A silk Top Hat depending on the size of the head would start at 600 pounds
and you can go up as far as 1200 to 1400 pounds. The reason they are so
expensive or they appear to be expensive is that it is a dying breed. They were
phased out in the 1960's, and the French who made the silk no longer made it
after 1964 so there are fewer of them around and in there hey day of the Top
Hat people were physically smaller therefore the head sizes were smaller.
There are very few for the larger head size so we have to pay more to restore
the larger size to original standard.
Sir Paul Mc Cartney comes in
KM: What does Paul look for in a hat?
He looks for a cap - he is a very relaxed sort of guy and his daughter Stella
comes in, and she buys caps as well. She buys corduroy caps and she looks
stunning in them. We have had Pierce Brosnan in, he bought a very nice black
Fedora and also Harrison Ford is a customer in his own right. Sir Winston
Churchill bought all his bowler hats here, Salvador Dahli was a customer,
Frank Sinatra was a customer,
KM: Salvardor Dahli must have been an interesting customer.
He was a very interesting customer, but he was before my time. James
Cagney also a customer, Larry Hagmann was a customer; he bought his
bowler hats here.
We had a customer who bought two hats for his cat.
KM: For his cat?
For his cat, I have a photograph of his cat.
KM: Fedora's or
No Bowler hat - it is an English cat. A Bowler hat for the winter and a straw hat
for the summer.
KM: Why doesn't that surprise me.
He came in last week because he bought a new car and he has bought a
leather helmet for himself. He has a special seat made for his cat and he
wanted another helmet for his cat with little holes for the ears. I said I would be
delighted to do it.
KM: Yes but did the cat have to go to university to become a lawyer or a
No, no we fast tracked him.
KM: I'm glad you did
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Patrick Lamb, John Lock Hats, London