The bucket hat, the star hat of 2020?
The must-have accessory of the 1990s, the bucket hat has been back for several seasons already. This year, more than ever, it’s making itself perfectly comfortable on every head, down to those on the runways. And if the three most popular styles are the Ricard bucket hat, the fisherman’s bucket hat and the German tourist bucket hat, this little hat has enough styling tricks up its (proverbial) sleeve to attract new generations of fans. Because the nostalgia for the nineties has made its comeback much easier, but also more able to absorb all sorts of trends. Let’s take a deeper look into this hat that leaves nobody indifferent!
Where does the bucket hat come from?
Having first appeared in the early 1900s in Ireland, the hat, made of wool, protected farmers and fishermen from the elements thanks to its slanted brim. Later adopted by American troops in World War II, it was then made of cotton to protect soldiers from the jungle environment of Vietnam. Robert being the nickname for an American soldier, the hat was called a ‘Bob’ by the French. In the 1980s, it was the turn of rappers to sport this hat that looked like an upside down bucket.
Though the bucket hat was popularized by the army, the shape swiftly caught on all over the world, including in fashion circles. Beyond its practical aspect (thanks to the fact that it was waterproof, it protected the wearer from the sun, and its portability – it could be folded up and stuck in a pocket – the bucket hat became popular again in the 1960s, as a good alternative to a panama. But its glory days had still not been reached!
Indeed, the real comeback happened in the 1980s, mainly thanks to brands like Kangol, which took it upon itself to transform the utilitarian spirit of the hat into something more fashionable. The finishing touch? The company produced it in an array of fabrics, which the hat adapted to with perfection. Whether it was velvet or a classic cotton, the bucket hat caught the attention of a wide swathe of society, especially on the breakdance and rap scene.
The bucket hat, a style crossroads
While the transformation of the bucket hat happened little by little, different target audiences chose to appropriate it as their own. Such was the case of the streetwear universe, where the little hat swiftly became an emblem.
By accompanying the evolution of hip-hop, the hat carved out a starring role in the collective imagination, going so far as to be worn, yesterday and today, by icons such as Run DMC, Public Enemy, Rihanna, and Jay-Z.
And that is probably the principle strength of the bucket hat: it crosses borders and manages to never be limited to one universe, nor ever disappear. That is why even today, the hat still navigates trend after trend, and keeps the spotlight focused on it, as was obvious in the normcore trend of 2014 which instilled values such as simplicity and practicality in the nicest way possible.
Today, the hat still holds a leading position on the catwalks of major brands and designers like Alexander Wang, Huf, Kenzo, and Tommy Hilfiger. Some brands are even having fun tweaking its codes, both in terms of its shape and the contrasting fabrics it’s made of, like My Bob and Verlan Paris, who are both helping to keep our beloved Bucket Hat relevant and a fashion staple.
The bucket hat, soaking up our era
Even if these days the bucket hat speaks mainly to the youth, the fact is that it has also established itself as a garment on the cutting edge. Alternately “too cool” and “too tacky” through the years, the main challenge –and value- of this piece is how it maintains its balance, both in terms of shape and design.
A balance that is tough, but fascinating to watch; one that is deeply anchored in contemporary dynamics. For example, you hear more and more that it is a “genderless” garment (it makes no distinction between genders.) This gives it a strength that goes beyond what is expected of a simple cotton canvas hat, one that allows it to redefine certain codes, certain wardrobes.
Nowadays you can find city bucket hats, summer bucket hats, leopard print bucket hats, velvet bucket hats… in fact, a variety of styles to which almost any person under the sun can relate, creations that can instantly update any garment and make them seem less classic. A far cry from the promotional cotton bucket hats given away at French sporting events!
Indeed, if there is one thing that the bucket hat has shown us, it’s that anything is possible, and everything still remains to be created … or re-created.
Photography : VERLAN