The design of a hat could be compared to sculpture, it requires three-dimensional thinking. Many hat designers do not sketch out the design first but manufacture a pre-production sample, traditionally in sparterie, that will be modified many times before it is put into production When the designer is happy with the shape it is sent to the block makers, for a wooden block or metal pan to be made. A successful design depends on many factors not least, proportion. The three main considerations to the buyer are appeal, wearability and price. Hat designers normally work in specific areas of the market place and the design has to take into account the particular requirements of any given sector.
Designer Hats are sold with a designer label, they are not normally mass produced and have limited production runs, the materials used will be the same as those used in model hats, mostly hand sewn, these “pret a porter” hats are blocked on metal pans, the hats in this category are bought by people who want to express their good taste and individuality, these hats are often worn with everyday clothes, designer hats are usually of a high quality, smart and practical to wear. Sometimes sold on their name, but most often by the design appeal.
Model (or Couture) Millinery is the creation of “one off” designs. The shape of the hat will be moulded on wooden blocks and most of the sewing will be by hand. Materials used should be of the highest quality. Most often the hat will be made by a milliner for one customer and sometimes with a particular occasion in mind. Model millinery could be considered to be the “haute couture” of hatmaking. Many of the designs are extravagant, frivolous and always expensive.
Factory Hats (Production Millinery) are the hats that people are most likely to see in hat shops, department stores and any other shops that sell hats. They can be offered at many different levels of quality and design, ranging from low to mid price levels. The hats are mostly mass produced, blocked on metal gas pans, sometimes made and trimmed with materials of a lower quality, the trims are often attached by glue gun as opposed to sewing. These hats are worn for many reasons, often worn by ladies that have an occasion to go to but do not wear hats regularly, other hats in this category are practical and sometimes casual. They offer good value for money to the occasional wearer. Price is an important factor to the customers of these hats.