By Shivani Vora
The storied Italian hatmaker Borsalino is debuting its first ever standalone pop-up store in the US at Bal Harbour Shops. Open now through July 31, the boutique showcases Borsalino’s latest collections for men and women and is among the several locations that it has added to its portfolio in the last year; others include Monte-Carlo and Mykonos.
Established in 1857 by Giuseppe Borsalino, the brand was a mainstay among Hollywood’s top movie stars: Humphrey Bogart proudly sported his Borsalino in “Casablanca” while Marcello Mastroianni wore his in “8 ½” and Jean-Belmondo in “Breathless.” It continues to be a staple among the fashionable set worldwide. Here, we talk with the brand’s managing director, Mauro Baglietto,
Why have you selected Bal Harbour Shops for the brand’s first US outpost?
Borsalino’s continual popularity in the US is also thanks to its historic link with Hollywood. We were waiting for the right moment to open a direct boutique. Bal Harbour Shops offered the perfect opportunity of a luxury shopping experience that caters to the kind of clientele who love Borsalino.
How do Borsalino hats fit into the Miami lifestyle?
Miami is vital and energetic. It’s also an international showcase for fashion and luxury with a longstanding affinity for Italian excellence. We think that Borsalino will be very well received.
Aesthetically, how do the styles differ by gender?
The latest collections reflect a sense of enhanced joie de vivre and promote diversity that allows endless possibilities for individual expression. As a result, the boundaries between men’s and women’s collections are increasingly rarefied.
Each of your hats can take up to six months to handmake. How has the process changed since the brand was founded in 1857?
The making of a Borsalino hat continues to be artisanal. Highly skilled makers are involved in every phase of the process: 52 manual steps and 7 weeks of processing are required for each felt hat. Panama hats woven by hand can take up to six months for one single piece. We are talking about masterpieces of craftsmanship here.
Borsalino specializes in felt hats. What about the fabric is so special or unique?
Borsalino produces all kinds of different hats. However, the most famous model is the classic medium-brim felt fedora style created by founder Giuseppe Borsalino. Felt has inimitable characteristics: it’s warm, soft, resistant and can be easily shaped with just the use of steam. Though it’s often referred to as a fabric, in reality, it originates from the felting of natural fibers. And we continue to produce it in-house with wooden machinery that dates back to the early twentieth century.
Who is the Borsalino customer today?
Someone who loves to express individuality and personal style through the selection of a hat. Elegant yet contemporary in how they celebrate diversity, lifestyle and fashion, they are also modern-day connoisseurs for top quality with a great appreciation for savoir-faire.
In your opinion, why are Borsalino hats still as relevant today as they were in the 19th and 20th centuries?
The brand’s relevance is directly proportional to its ability to communicate with contemporary times. A custodian of iconic artisanal values, Borsalino has been able to constantly redefine its tradition through stylistic innovation.
On what occasion should you wear a Borsalino hat? Can you share any styling tips?
Every occasion is the right occasion! Rather than offering styling tips, there is one piece of advice to consider. Very often choosing a hat represented the last step in building one’s look—why not reverse the process and start with the hat?