Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, a life-long hat wearer and once an owner of more than
100 hats, is now the proud owner of an entire hat factory—one of the last of
its kind in the United States. It was Morgan-Thomas’s passion for hats that
motivated her and son Robert to save the then failing S&S Hat Company in
Philadelphia. S&S Hat, founded in 1923, was a successful manufacturer and
supplier of hats to boutique and department stores. Decades later, with less
demand for handmade hats, the company went up for sale and Morgan-Thomas saw
this as an opportunity to salvage a part of history.
In 2016, she
purchased the legendary factory, renamed it American Hats, and vowed to restore
its viability while “respecting the history and traditions of an industry by
using the highest quality materials and employing experienced individuals who
care about the quality of their work.” Morgan-Thomas retained the talented
artisans who have each worked at the factory for more than 20 years and relied
on their expertise to teach her the basics of hat making so that she could
understand all aspects of the business.
choosing materials, sewing, blocking, trimming to finishing and inspection, American
Hats does everything by hand from the very beginning. On any given day, when
you walk into the factory it is lined with much of the original equipment along
with wooden hat blocks, fabrics, ribbons, bows, silk flowers, feathers, and rhinestones.
There is row after row of hat trees filled with finished products. The variety of
materials and styles seem unending. There are straw, felt, and silk ribbon
hats. There are women’s pill box, cloche, fascinator, and church-going hats, men’s
bowlers, fedoras, and more.
Morgan-Thomas’s entrepreneurial spirit, devote leadership, and drive to keep
the hat making industry alive, American Hats has broadened their customer base
and opened a showroom in New York City. The quality of American Hats—their designs,
materials, and detailing remains true to Morgan-Thomas’s vision and is the foundation
to their success.