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The Globe and Mail

Tip of the hat to the return of the fedora

Tommy Ton/

Tom Hardy sure can wear a hat.

As a Depression-era Southern moonshiner in Lawless, he sports a beaten-up fedora, worn menacingly low and often paired with an unbuttoned cardigan and wool trousers, that threatens to steal the show. Despite the movie's period setting, he looks, in fact, as if he has stepped off the fall runways of Robert Geller or Jean Paul Gaultier, two of several men's wear designers who featured toppers that Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel might have appreciated.

Designers have been trying to make hats happen for a few seasons now, citing influences as varied as David Bowie's fedora-wearing extraterrestrial in The ManWho Fell to Earth (see Lanvin's show from last fall) to the wide-brimmed headwear of Southern Gothic preachers and Amish men (check out Dior Homme's last spring collection).

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But it has only been recently that these styles have actually transitioned from the catwalks to the street, appearing on the heads of not just overly accessorized hipsters and performers like Ne-Yo and Theophilus London but on regular guys too, many of whom are being photographed sporting porkpies, homburgs and trilbys – all types of fedoras – for men's style blogs such as Mister Mort and Dapper Lou.

This past summer, posted an image of Dexter Peart, one of the Montreal-based twin brothers behind the label WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie, in an ivory-hued Panama-style fedora by Borsalino, an Italian brand founded in 1857. "Even after 150 years they continue to present the fedora in such a stylish way," says Peart, who was snapped for the magazine's website while attending Pitti Uomo, the men's trade show in Florence. "Their hats are classic yet modern at the same time."

On these shores and in cooler temperatures, Peart will swap his straw version for a navy flannel traveller's fedora: a foldable style that will be stocked along with other Borsalinos in the brand new WANT Passport boutique in Toronto's Billy Bishop airport, the first retail outlet of any kind at the downtown airfield.

Fellow lid-lovers Gregory Westbrook and Nick Fouquet took matters into their own hands last year, launching Westbrook Maker, a California-based company specializing in handmade hats. Their fall collection, inspired by the preferred headgear of legendary American troubadours such as Gram Parsons and Woody Guthrie as well as the widebrimmed, high-crowned hats of Hasidic men, are, according to Fouquet, crafted with "a high attention to detail and a whole lot of love," not to mention the finest beaver and rabbit-fur felt, deadstock European grosgrain and inner sweatbands made from military-grade sheepskin.

One of their styles to check out is the Gold Digger, which carries the tagline: "Not named after the great gold rush of 1849 but after my ex-wife, who took everything I had, including my boots."

Hold on to your hats, though: Depending on felt content, weight and finishing, a Westbrook Maker can cost upward of 600 bucks. On the other hand, this trend is likely to hang around for at least a few seasons more.

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