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Who Invented The Cowboy Hat?

Who invented the cowboy hat anyway? Many hats have a difficult time pin-pointing their creation. Some modern styles, like the fedora and trilby have specific origins, but many like the flat cap or top hat have been around for so long that a specific day or naming a creator is anyone’s guess.

Luckily the cowboy hat is a modern design. Historians credit the invention of the American cowboy hat to John B. Stetson.

Boss of the plains
By -oo0(GoldTrader)0oo- (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Boss of the Plains

In 1865 Stetson created the first “Boss of the Plains” hat. With only $100 to his name, Stetson bought tools and fur, and set about creating the iconic hat. Years later, Stetson’s company still exists as one of America’s favorite hat manufacturers.

John B. Stetson learned the hat making trade from his father. What set John apart, however, was a hat maker was often considered unreliable and sometimes crazy. When he decided to focus on hats and invented the cowboy hat, he wanted to do things different. He wanted to create a superior product using better materials, and he wanted to do it better than anyone else. This eye on quality was immediately recognized by the cowboys at the time, and has since stood the test of time ever since.

Considered the hat that won the West, the original Boss of the Plains had a flat brim, a straight sided crown, and round corners. The hat was water proof, light weight, and had a natural color. Though Stetson only designed one style, the hat was sold in different price points based on the material used. A beaver fur hat for example, would have been a much more expensive upgrade.

Stetson’s business model was to create expensive high-quality hats for working cowboys. It was both an asset to cowboys who used and wore them every day. The hat also found favor among men in the city too, as a status of their success.

New to these Hats? Read our Guide to Get you Started

who invented the cowboy hat

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