A Brief History of the Bowler Hat
Conceived by British hat makers Thomas and William Bowler, the origins of the traditional Bowler Hat date back to the mid-1800’s. Thomas and William had been commissioned by James Lock & Co. of St James's of London to create a hat that would protect the heads of the gamekeepers at the Norfolk estate of Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester. Because the Top Hats commonly worn by the keepers were often dislodged by low-hanging branches as they rode horseback, the Bowler Hat was originally designed as a more suitable replacement. The result was a more rounded design with a lower crown made of stiff felt material.
The Bowler Hat quickly went on to gain popularity amongst both the working and middle classes and were regarded as symbols of reliability and practicality. They were also worn by a broader range of people including politicians, businessmen, and bankers. In Britain, the height of the Bowler Hat's popularity perhaps peaked around the late 19th to early 20th centuries, but by that time, bowlers were also being worn in other countries around the world including the United States, South America, and Australia.
As more casual clothing styles became more commonplace over time, the Bowler Hat's popularity declined to some degree but remained a firm favourite within certain sections of the community such as city professionals, artists, and performers etc. It still remains a much sought after item for formal and special occasions such as weddings, a day at the races, and traditional costume events. To this day, the traditional Bowler Hat remains an iconic symbol of British style and heritage.