City folk wouldn't dream of doing it to the soft-weight Akubra fedora, but the first thing most Australian men and women on the land do when they receive their new hat from the firm most likely the "Cattleman", "Stockman", "Snowy River" or "Riverina" style is to take it out of the box and stamp on it with their boots.
Rain permitting, they might fling the hat in the nearest puddle. This rural ritual isn't a sign of disrespect, but the opposite. A quintessential symbol of Australian working life, the Akubra has to be worn in from the get-go. Like country folk themselves, it can be battered and punished, but will keep its shape and give years of faithful service.
Alternatively, the upwardly mobile type of Akubra-wearer may keep the new fur-felt hat in pristine condition to wear at country races, formal events or when they go to the big smoke. Their old Sunday best hat now becomes the work hat. The new Akubra will sit in the cupboard always crown down so the brim doesn't lose shape next to their polished R.M. Williams Craftsman boots, starched moleskins, plaited leather belt and striped shirt.
The people at fourth-generation family-owned Akubra, headquartered in Kempsey, northern NSW, don't mind that their hats take a regular beating. "We must be one of the few products in the world where we allow for that," says company secretary Roy Wilkinson. "The secret ingredient is that we make a quality fur-felt hat. This is what has kept us alive when every other hat manufacturer in the country dating back to the [19th century] no longer exists. Because we always knew what we were doing; we know how to make a quality hat."
Article was written by Johnathan Lobban - "The Australian" - Newspaper
Picture by: Sam Grant