The iconic shape is instantly recognisable all over the world! With its hard and domed crown it is formal yet more versatile than a top hat. Laird make this classic bowler hat in woolfelt.
The bowler hat was devised in 1849 by the London hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler to fulfill an order placed by the firm of hatters Lock & Co. of St. James’. Lock & Co. had been commissioned by a customer to design a close-fitting, low-crowned hat to protect his Gamekeeper’s heads from low-hanging branches while on horseback. The keepers had previously worn Top Hats, which were easily knocked off and damaged. It was also hoped that the new style of hat would protect the keepers if they were attacked by poachers.
Lock & Co. then commissioned the Bowler brothers to solve the problem. While most accounts state that the customer was William Coke, a nephew of the 1st Earl of Leicester, recent research has cast some doubt on this, and it is now believed that it was instead Edward Coke, the younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester.
When Coke arrived in London on 17 December 1849 to collect his hat he reportedly placed it on the floor and stamped hard on it twice to test its strength; the hat withstood this test and Coke paid 12 shillings for it. In accordance with Lock & Company’s usual practice, the hat was called the “Coke” (pronounced “cook”) hat after the customer who had ordered it, and this is most likely why the hat became known as the “Billy Coke” or “Billycock” hat in Norfolk.
Bowler hats, locally called a Bombin, have also been worn by Quechua and Aymara women in Peru and Bolivia since the 1920s when it was introduced to Bolivia by British railway workers. For many years a factory in Italy manufactured the hats for the Bolivian market, but they are now made locally in Bolivia.
The Bowler has been worn over the years by many gentlemen around town, synonymous with bank managers in the 30’s and 40’s and immortalized by Arthur Lowe in “Dad’s Army”. Latterly it became well know as the head wear for John Steed in the avengers, but after the 1960’s it became less popular.
It has made a recent comeback though and both sexes have adopted the bowler as an expression of classic British style, and like the structured nature of the Bowler over others.
|British||6 1/2||6 7/8||7 - 7 1/8||7 1/2 - 7 3/8||7 1/2|
|USA||6 7/8||7||7 1/8 - 7 1/4||7 3/8 - 7 1/2||7 5/8|
|Inches Circumference||21 1/2||22||22 ½ - 22 3/4||23 1/4 - 23 3/4||24|
Average size Male: 59cm (7 1/4) / Female: 57cm (7)
For more information on how to measure your size, please read our Measurement Guide.