Did you know the Bowler hat was born in 1849?

The hat was designed for English outdoorsmen whose top hats were frequently knocked off by wind or branches. Its popularity spread quickly to America where newspaperman Lucius Beebe called it, “the hat that won the West.” More popular than the cowboy hat, it was worn by cowboys and railroad workers as well as lawmen and scofflaws. All were attracted to the hat by the same pragmatic feature: it was more difficult for the wind to blow it off.

The Bowler became popular with men as well as women in South America, and it caught on in parts of Africa as well. It has been the trademark of many comic actors including John Cleese, Stan Laurel, and Oliver Hardy. Perhaps its use in comedy is because members of all economic classes have worn the Bowler. Thus the viewer sees himself or herself in the comic character sporting this iconic hat.

The Wright Brothers Be First shirt

Get your T-shirt with the iconic Wright brothers Bowler hat design.

The Bowler also has some aliases. It is alternately known as a bob hat, bombin, billycock, or derby. Many photos of the Wright brothers show them wearing Bowlers. The brothers were both fashionable and practical. Their choice of headwear demonstrates the linking of form and function, which also manifested in their bicycle innovations and, of course, their airplanes.

Fashion, form and function marked the inventions they are remembered for as well as the personal style of the Wright brothers. These are the elements we incorporate in all of our products, including our newest: hats! Be first to try them.

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