March 18, 2019 - December 4, 2019
Reverend 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.
From designing, 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.
With 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.