B. Brent Black - Brent Black Panama Hats
The very finest Montecristi "Panama" hats have been woven in the small village of Pile, Ecuador, for more than a hundred years. The art has been on the brink of extinction for the past 25 years. So, in January of 2011 I founded a hat weaving school in Pile to teach this art to the next generation (at no tuition).
Twenty years later, not only was the art still alive, but I commissioned the finest Montecristi hat ever woven. I call it The Hat. Simón Espinal devoted five months to weaving it.
See: http://www.luxist.com/2009/08/10/the-classicist-the-100-000- panama-hat/ - Was The Hat worth 20 years of effort? Yes.
My tax accountant once commented, "You're not in business with the hats, you're in love with the hats." Of course. That's why I started the business. And even after 25 years of seeing, feeling, living with, fighting for, blocking, and wearing Montecristi hats, I am still in love. They have created their nation's greatest art and most famous export in anonymity (and near poverty) for countless generations. They inspire me to work