Headwear Industry Directory Graphic
2012 Hatty Award Winners
  Add or update your listings Purchase Directory Newsletter Archives Hatty Awards Partner Program Advertise with us

Hat Finishes

Caring for Hats The 10 Hat Commandments Hat Finishes
Historic Hat Styles What is Hat Size How Hats are Made

Hat characteristics, production and how to identify them readily.

Milady spends considerable time on make-up and dress before going out of the house, and the man, similarly, dresses up for every occasion. These preparations have one common goal: For each to look his or her best and to express their most alluring personality. So, too, it is with hats.

Even though they cannot primp for themselves, it is done for them by painstaking specialists in the hat industry. They, like the men and women who wear them, must look their very best, and must express a captivating personality all their own. This personality comes in what we in the trade call "finishes".

Each finish has its own expression. There are the silk and angora finishes. These are the aristocrats, or the more luxurious, of the touches which express the hat's personality.

But the Velour, the Suede, the Beaver, the Sponge, the Scratch Finishes, and, to be sure, the Mixtures, are very personable too. They are markedly different, each expressing its own thing in its own way, just as Milady and Mr. Man who choose them as their fancy dictates


This is a long fur finish, with a characteristic sheen of silk, as in the illustration shown with this article. The sheen is imparted in one of two ways: buffing the long nap with a felt wheel, or smoothing the nap with a leuring pad and a special brand of grease. Like the angora finish, the silk finish is most luxurious. Both finishes go exceptionally well with dress-up clothes and overcoats.
Silk Hat Image
Silk finish is a long-fur finish with a sheen similar to silk.


The long textured hair of angora fur characterizes this finish. But it does not include any angora fur, oddly. It's all in the name, this type of long-haired finish. It is fashioned by leaving the fur long throughout the entire back-shop operations, and using a long wire brush for scratching the long fur in the front-shop work. It's a luxurious, man-handled creation.


Such a finish does not necessarily mean that the hat consists of beaver fur. Its a trade name which designates a hat in which the nap is left long and combed out horizontally. Made from long, selected fur, it has a long dense nap and a beautiful lustre brought out by a buffing wheel. It differs from the silk finish in this respect because the silk consists of shorter fur and longer nap.


This is famous for its deep lustrous nap, like that of fine velvet, and its extreme, melow pliability. Of all the finishes, this has, probably, the most fascinating appeal to the sense of the touch. The operation in its creation includes "sharkskinning" the hat body which really means combing up the nap and pulling out short fibers with real sharkskin strips mounted on a furiously rotating wheel. Then the fur fibers are clipped on special machines which flail away like a barber's clippers.


Sometimes referred to as "antelope"or "doe" finish, the Suede Finish has the feel and look of suede, or short napped velvet. It is distinguished from a regular smooth-finish felt by a slightly discernable sheen where the light catches the ends of the fur and also by its soft, velvet-like surface. The look and feel of suede finish is due largely to two operations: emerypaper buffing, which abrades the fur to the desired height, and polishing with the felt wheel, a step which not only adds lustre but brings up the nap


This is also known as the chinchilla or pebble finish. Its distinguishing feature is multitudes of knobs or clumps of fur covering the entire surface of the hat, imparting a nubby appearance, similar to chinchilla or wool cloth. Wear this type hat with strongly textured clothes such as rough tweeds, cheviots. The knobs are produced in the fur by water-moisturing the surface and then rubbing it with the ellipthical motion by machine.

Sponge finish cap graphic
Sponge finish is characterized by little knobs or clumps of fur.


This comprises not one solid color, but a combination of several (three to eight) colored furs blended tastefully. A variety of finishes can be imparted to the mixtures: smooth, rough, silk, etc. In production of other hats, the fur is dyed after the body of the hat is formed. In mixtures, the dying process comes first.


Actually, this refers to a group of finishes and its just a generic term, because the surface of the fur is "scratched" by a wire brush in final stages of production. This process loosens up the surface hairs, leaving them rough and hairy, or they can be laid with further brushing in a nice-looking, long, smooth nap. Depending on the depth of fur originally clipped or abraided in the back-shop, three general scratch finishes are produced: The long, the medium and the short.