No wonder the craziest character in Alice in Wonderland is the Madhatter.
That is because it takes a small portion of madness to pursue this craft, and that for over 125 years. Hatmaking has enjoyed a long tradition in the Allgäu, as active trade with northern Italy also brought the knowledge of processing straw to the region. Initially, only very simple hats were woven for harvest, with economic success steadily growing thereafter. Shortly before the turn of the century, hat production witnessed its first period of prosperity in which the Seeberger brothers were also able to establish themselves.
Back then, a straw hat originated from a so-called cone which was woven at home by hand. This is what the people in the Allgäu mainly did on long and dark winter evenings to earn extra income. Afterwards, the hat-makers formed the finished cone into the desired shape. This same processed is still used today by the Seeberger hat manufacture.
The cones still consist of woven straw or felt but are now shipped directly from the producing countries. Once in the manufacture, they receive their final shape using handmade, wooden and metal templates, some of which date back 125 years. This requires adept skill as a hat can only be formed into proper shape by experienced hands. If the hat mould is too hot or the length of time too long, the material will burn. If the hat is pulled too short or too cold, it will not retain its shape. Good quality simply requires skill and experience.
Afterwards, the seams are set and the inner band, decorative stitching and individual trimming applied. Almost every step is performed using special machines, some of which have been used for over 100 years. The final steps involve gently brushing, steaming, polishing or striping and carefully applying decorative elements such as a hatband, fabric, buckle, emblem or feather. The finished hat is now ready to leave the Seeberger manufacture. Each individual piece is a special style statement that looks back on a 125 year tradition.
Today, the hats are available in two to four collections each year in over 40 countries and are supplemented by knitted hats, scarves and other beautiful, warm accessories.
For the love of a hat, you have to be a bit mad.