Kangol Hats: Timeless Appeal for Timeless Outfits
Same as any other clothing item and accessory, hat designs appear and disappear from both the catwalks and the streets. However, if there’s an exception I had to single out, it would be the iconic Kangol hats that made the brand popular over the decades. Still popular as they were years ago, you can give your outfits a timeless stylish touch with one of them, be it the bucket, tropic bucket or beret.
How Kangol Came to Be
The brand’s story dates back at the beginning of the 20th century, specifically in the period during and after WWI, when Jakob Henryk Spreiregen, Polish by birth, emigrated to England and started manufacturing hats as well as importing Basque berets from France. After they became a success in the 1930s, especially among the military and workers, he opened up the first headquarters in Cleator, England, where he produced his own Kangol headwear.
Though it isn’t certain what the origin of the name might be, the most common theory is that K stands for knitting, ang for angora, and ol for wool. As Europe entered the WWII period, his company became the major supplier of headgear for the British military. Perhaps one of the most notable people to wear them at the time was Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery.
From the Battlefield to the Streets
But these hats didn’t stop there. The Kangol design was further popularised by the English Olympic team in 1948, thinning the line between army wear and casual wear. The real fashion boom, however, happened later in the 1950s, specifically 1954 when they redesigned the iconic beret with stiffened materials, creating the famous Kangol hats that you can find at an Australian clothing store.
Exporting their products in South Africa and the US, the brand continued to get worldwide recognition, even more when the Beatles as influential icons wore their own range of Kangol caps and berets. And this cemented the brand’s connection with the music industry. It became even more apparent when the hip hop culture was emerging in the US in the 1980s, and rappers adopted the iconic hats as their accessories.
Some celebrities and musicians who also helped the brand gain higher fashion status were LL Cool J, Slick Rick, Missy Elliott, Run-DMC, Ludacris, T.I., Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Eminem and the late Princess Diana among others. For those curious about the logo, the kangaroo was introduced because of the Kangol hat being sought after as the kangaroo hat in the US.
By 2000, the brand was the biggest designer of hats in the world with about $100 million of global sales in a year. They remain true to their origins to this day, as they continue to create history bridging generations and cultures with their designs and partnerships. Of course, implementation of latest technology and innovation also have to do with the success.
Wearing Kangol Hats
If you want to give your outfits a touch of style without trying too hard, look no further than this brand.
The Kangol bucket hats are perfect if you’re after a laidback vibe while also looking for utmost head protection. They can be worn with oversized T-shirts, printed shirts and tracksuits, giving you the timeless 90s appeal and providing you with the right amount of coverage. For a pop of colour you can wear a red one, for example, or go for a neutral look with a black or grey one.
For the urban smart casual style, you can choose a classic like the Kangol 504, accessorising with scarves, combining it with biker jackets, overcoats, cardigans, denim, chinos, and with footwear for specific occasions like Oxford shoes, leather boots, and even sneakers.
In case you want to channel your inner Samuel L Jackson, choose the Kangol cap with tuxedo look, whereas if you’re after adding a bit of glam to the outfits you can’t go wrong choosing the fedora.
Caring for Kangol Hats
Make sure to take care of your Kangol headgear properly and clean it the right way if you want it to last for a long time. The degree of care basically comes down to the material the hats are made of.
For instance, if you’ve got a wool Kangol 504, some regular brushing with a soft brush is recommended to remove the dust. When it comes to washing, it’s advisable to hand wash it gently with a wool detergent (never use other detergents and soaps). Remove the excess water by pressing the hat lightly with a towel. Avoid scrubbing and twisting by all means, and let it air dry before storing and using.
Those made of natural fabrics like cotton, as well as synthetic materials such as acrylic, can be machine washed. But it’s best to use the gentle cycle setting with cool water to prevent any damage. Canvas hats are good to be cleaned with a damp cloth, whereas straw hats require brushing with a specialised whisk broom. As for leather, you’d have to treat them occasionally with suitable leather dressings.