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Where Stetson Hats Are Made & Other Fun Facts

silhouette of cowboy and horse at sunset
Written by Nicky H

Stetson Cowboy Hat Stats

A True American classic

Nothing symbolizes the American West quite like the cowboy hat, and none is more iconic than the Stetson. With its distinctive silhouette, high crown, and wide brim, the Stetson symbolizes the rugged individualism that shaped America.

The Stetson is an outstanding example of form meeting function and then fusing into fashion. It’s more than just a hat—it’s “an icon of everyday American lifestyle.” Durable enough to withstand the rigors of life on the plains, the Stetson epitomizes the rugged resilience of the American West.

The History Behind the Brand

John B. Stetson learned the skills of the trade early in life, thinking he would one day establish himself as a master hatter. Before that opportunity arose, however, Stetson was diagnosed with terminal tuberculosis and left his birthplace in New Jersey to explore the American frontier before his death.

During his travels, Stetson and his companions sheltered from the rain under primitive tents cobbled together from the animal skins they gathered along the way. These untreated rawhide tents offered little protection against the rain, so Stetson used his hat-making skills to transform the fur into water-resistant felt.

Using a piece of this felt, Stetson fashioned a wide-brimmed, high-crowned felt hat, which greatly amused his fellow travelers, but proved surprisingly effective against the relentless rain.

Stetson’s acquaintances soon started envying his hat, rather than laughing at it, and eventually, Stetson agreed to sell it in exchange for a five-dollar gold piece.

About a year later, Stetson arrived in Philadelphia with just enough money for a few tools and some fur, and promptly started manufacturing hats based on his original design.

What emerged from Stetson’s factory was the Boss of Plains—a high-crowned, wide-brimmed felt hat that would protect the wearer from the sun and rain, fit snugly enough that it wouldn’t blow off in a strong wind, and double-up as an emergency water bucket for a thirsty horse.

Over the years, Stetson perfected his design, introducing creases that would help the hat stay securely on the wearer’s head, and curved brims to keep the hat out of the way of the cowboy’s swinging rope.

Although it took some time for the Stetson to gain popularity, once it did, it wasn’t just cowboys wearing them—everyone from movie stars to politicians were enamored!

Stetson subsequently became the biggest hatmaker in the world and continues to produce around half a million hats a year.

Stetson Hats Today

Today’s Stetson hats are made using the same techniques and processes that John B. Stetson learned as a young man. You can still buy an original Boss of the Plains cowboy hat, as meticulously handcrafted as it was back in the 1860s.

Of course, Stetson now makes a much wider range of hats these days, catering to both men and women. Aside from their cowboy hats, Stetson also makes straw hats, fedoras, and an extensive range of caps.

Where are Stetson Hats Manufactured?

John B. Stetson first manufactured his hats in a single room on the corner of Seventh and Callowhill Streets in Philadelphia, before moving to a more practical space in the suburbs.

He later established a factory at 1801 Germantown Avenue, where he produced cowboy hats, among other designs, for many years. Stetson stopped manufacturing hats in 1970, and Stetson hats are now produced by Hatco, Inc. in Garland, Texas.

But are all Stetsons made in the USA?

According to Stetson’s official website, “These hats are made right here in the U.S.A., the same way we’ve been making them for over 150 years.”

Stetson Hat Options

The Skyline 6X is one of Stetson’s all-time best-sellers and epitomizes that classic Stetson look. With its mid-range price tag, luxurious yet durable fur felt, leather sweatband, and satin liner, it’s a true classic.

Alternatively, you can opt for a handwoven straw Stetson that captures the essence of Western elegance. Perfect for warmer climates and easier on the bank balance, it’s a cool way to get that Stetson silhouette.

Stetson Hats in the Rain

The Stetson was designed to protect the wearer from all the elements, including rain. The fur felt is so waterproof that the Stetson can be used as an emergency water bucket!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Stetson hats still made in the USA?

Yes, Stetson hats are still made in the USA.

Q: Does Stetson make hats in China?

According to all official sources, Stetson only makes hats in the US.

Q: Are Stetson and Resistol made in the same factory?

Factories belonging to both Stetson and Resistol are operated by the same company; Hatco, Inc.

Q: Can you wear Stetson hats in the rain?

You can wear a fur-felt Stetson in the rain, as the fur is naturally water-resistant, but it may not keep you dry in a prolonged downpour. You should never wear a straw Stetson in the rain, as it may become misshapen or discolored.

Q: Will my Stetson felt hat get ruined in the rain?

A felt Stetson is sturdy and resilient, designed to endure rain, sleet, and snow without damage. If your hat does get wet, Stetson advises you to “shake off the excess water, and turn down the “self-conforming” leather sweatband.”

Caution: While it’s wet, keep your hat away from any heat sources, as heat can reactivate the felting process, causing your hat to shrink.

Q: Which Stetson hats are best in the rain?

A felt Stetson cowboy hat 6X, or above, provides adequate protection in the rain due to the inherent water resistance of the fur. Stetsons with lower ratings are often made using wool felt, which lacks that natural water resistance.

Q: Is it ok for cowboy hats to get wet?

It’s okay for a fur-felt cowboy hat to get wet, but a wool-felt or straw cowboy hat could become misshapen if exposed to water.

Q: How do you waterproof a cowboy hat?

A fur-felt cowboy hat is naturally water-resistant, but you can improve its resilience by applying a waterproofing spray or wax.

Parting Thoughts

The first time John B. Stetson molded fur felt into a shape, he had no idea he was creating an iconic hat that would stand the test of time. Not only is the Stetson durable, but its popularity shows no sign of waning. Over 150 years since its creation, the Stetson remains a symbol of enduring style and indomitable free spirit.

If you’re in the market for a cowboy hat, you can’t go wrong with a Stetson. Quality materials and expert craftsmanship ensure a high-quality product that will protect you from the elements, proving practical on the ranch (and in the saddle) and stylish on the dance floor.

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