Louisville is known for a number of things - bourbon, baseball bats and fried chicken hit near the top of the list, but nothing can displace the Kentucky Derby. Of course, anyone with any exposure to the Derby knows what one of the most amazing things about attending is: the hats. It is for this exact reason that Paul’s Hat Works has set up shop at 1319 Story Avenue in Butchertown; after having a booth at the Derby for the past couple of years the four enterprising owners set their sights on a new location, and Louisville was the winner.
Paul’s Hat Works originally opened in the Richmond district of San Francisco in 1918 before changing hand a couple times. Olivia Griffin, Abbie Dwelle, Wendy Hawkins and Kirsten Hove all decided to go in together to purchase it in 2009, getting a six month apprenticeship with the previous owner as part of the deal. They’ve done well in California, and started looking to expand, originally planning on New York. Setting up at the Derby and getting to meet locals like Mayor Fischer helped sway a move to Louisville, where they just opened last month.
If you’re looking for a cheap piece of unlined, machine-stamped cardboard-textured felt, you might want to try a costume shop. What Paul’s Hat Works is bringing to Louisville are amazingly constructed, quality, custom-fit hats that will last a lifetime. Not only do they make their hats using the same methods as the original owner did in 1918, but most of their equipment is antique as well, so you’re putting something on your head that’s the real deal. There’s an emphasis on the art of making at Paul’s, as Wendy told me “People are sick of cheap, throw-away junk. There’s a resurgence in investing in high-quality things.”
Paul’s Hat Works also rents hats for short-term needs, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to buy your loaner after putting it on your head. Hats are coming back in style, and if you want to look like someone with a sense of fashion don’t find one on the cheap - check out Paul’s first.
Photos courtesy of Benjamin Marcum Photography.