Just prior to the release of summer blockbuster Public Enemies, all plaidout paid a visit to the film’s hatter, Optimo Hats in Chicago, Illinois. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you the hats stole the show. Now is your chance to get that Dillinger look. Graham Thompson and his team at Optimo are going coastal. They’re taking their show on the road. A two stop, five day tour, Graham and company will be holed up in a suite at the Gramercy Park Hotel for three days of fittings in New York City and at Fino Fino in Menlo, Park, California for a two-day stint in the next month. It promises to be a raucous good time, complete with cocktails and the best hats in the world.
Last week, I stopped by Optimo and spoke with Graham about what’s to come. Not only did he express just how excited he is for his first New York trunk show, and how thrilled he is to be returning to Fino Fino, where last year he was booked straight through from the moment he arrived until the moment he took off again for O’Hare (“We only had time for ham sandwiches between appointments”), but he showed me some pretty terrific new projects which are still under wraps until springtime. However, I assure you, for hat fanatics like me, Graham is taking a big leap forward in the headgear game.
1926 Bugatti Type 38 Interior
“Imagine that you’re cruising behind the wheel of your Bugatti in the ’20s while wearing one of these bad boys.”
Can you picture it? I can: welder’s goggles, racing cap, kid leather driving gloves. I am so excited to share with you the future projects of Optimo Hats as they come to fruition. In the meantime, do yourself a favor: Call Graham, Tiffany, any of the folks at Optimo, and book an appointment for a fitting. Tell them you read about it on all plaidout.
Seeing is believing, and in my years collecting old Borsalino, Dobbs, Knox, Stetson, and Joseph E. Ward fedoras, these are truly the best-made hats I have ever laid eyes on. From the quality of the felt, to the process of construction, to the “clean hat” method they use to produce the hat, no one in the world still makes a hat like Optimo.
A clean hat is one free of powder. Most companies load their hats with powder to hide shellac marks or other defects. Sometimes, hats are powdered to just add a bit of luster. Not Optimo. In fact, some of their clients bring in other brands to be cleaned, and once they’ve been vacuumed, spots develop.
It’s all in the name of making hats of the highest quality, with a regard for Old World traditions which, if not for folks like Graham, would be all but dead. To keep the tradition of hat-making alive, invest in an Optimo Hat. Maybe, like me, it’s your first, and it’s one you’ll wear every day and cherish. Or maybe you’re like a lot of the Southsiders who stroll into Graham’s shop, and it’s your tenth in five years, and “Shh, don’t tell. My wife’ll kill me,” and “Man, the boys sure are jealous of this mink,” and “Nobody does it like, Graham here.” Either way, buying an Optimo Hat is like buying an heirloom watch; as Graham reiterates time and again, take good care of an Optimo, and, “You’ll have this hat for the rest of your life.”