How to Buy Panama Hats: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

How to Buy Hats: Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Your brand is very famous, how long is your waiting list to make a hat?

Most times of year, I can start to work on your hat within a few days of receiving your order (yes, the hand-blocking is done by my hands). From the middle of March through the middle of September, I am happily overwhelmed with orders. I know you are in a hurry to wear your hat and to hear all those compliments. I work very long days, but even so, delays occur. Order sooner, get it sooner. Now would be best.

How long will it take to get my hat?

If I have no other orders, and everything goes perfectly, about two to three weeks from the day the size is confirmed to the day the hat can be shipped. BUT I always have other orders, and everything never goes perfectly.

During the busy summer season, assume at least four weeks, probably longer. Remember, you are ordering a custom made, hand made work of art. If you want a hat tomorrow, or even next week, buy a lower priced factory hat to wear while you wait for me to make your “real” hat.

The process cannot be rushed. Each hat must dry completely between each stage of the blocking. I almost always repeat at least some of the stages. It is a difficult, lengthy process, which is why I am one of the very few hat makers remaining in the world who still completely hand blocks and finishes Panama hats. (I see some Internet sellers who claim to do hand blocking, but they aren’t doing what I’m doing. They’re not that crazy.)

We live in a McWorld of mass produced, instant everything. I prefer to be an exception. I prefer the inefficient, old fashioned, low tech, everything-by- hand way of making hats.

You have thousands of choices for factory hats. Perhaps only one choice for a truly hand-made Panama hat. Fortunately, I am a very good choice.

Those size test bands will take too long; what if I don’t want them?

It is entirely up to you. Most clients choose a test band that is a different size than the size they entered with their orders. Some need a second set of size test bands because the first size wasn’t even close. It takes less time to try on the bands and confirm your size before I make your hat than to return a wrong-size hat and have me re-size it, or start over. Like the carpenters all say: Measure twice, cut once. Be good to yourself, take the time to get it right.

Do the size test bands cost extra for US clients?

No. 2-way shipping for the test bands is included. For international clients this is not possible and an extra shipping charge applies.

Do I get a refund if I don’t want the size test bands?


Can I pay rush charges and get my hat faster?

Non-refundable extra payments of all types are always welcome. A 7-figure donation to The Montecristi Foundation, Inc., would attract my attention. The general rule is: first come, first served; first in, first out. All of my clients are eager to have their hats.

On the other hand, perhaps your needs truly are greater than theirs, your cause more worthy. Tell me your story.

Or perhaps you work for the government and understand the many efficiencies of a really big bribe.

A heart-warming story plus a really big bribe—that would be the way to go.

Store Questions

How do I find your store when I visit southern Oregon?

I don’t have a store.

And no stores have my hats. The prices on my website are direct-to-you prices. I buy the finest hats directly from the weavers. Other hats are purchased through the artisans who do the finishing work. I block the hats myself. I custom make each hat for a specific client at a price that would be the wholesale price for an off-the-shelf hat. It works. I have happy clients in more than 75 countries.

You have an address; can I just come there?


The trip will be especially worthwhile if you want to ship a package. My mailing address, the address on my website, is a UPS Store. Very nice folks. But no hats.

Can I come to your home then?


There are many reasons why this is simply not possible. Thank you for your interest, and your forgiveness.

What if I think you’re a jerk because you don’t want a really great person like me to come visit?

You won’t be the first.

If I stop work to enjoy the company of all the interesting people who call to stop by, I would never get any hats made.

I am a very private person with a lot of work to do. I block all of the hats myself. During the summer, my workdays are often 14 hours or longer, 7 days a week.

The reality of my studio is not at all what you imagine. It is nothing like a store with shelves full of ready-to-wear hats. Each of my hats is custom-made when requested. I do not have hats to “shop,” to try on, to see all the styles, none of that. Just chaos and disorder and a guy working his butt off trying to make beautiful hats amidst the chaos.

Thank you for your kind understanding.

International Questions

Do you ship to countries outside the US?

Yes. Frequently. Here is a list of countries to which we have shipped hats successfully:

Can I order my hat in centimeter sizing, or must I use inches?

You may enter your head measurement/size to the nearest one-fourth centimeter, or to the nearest one-eighth inch. If you enter your head size as an English or US hat size (discouraged) please specify which system you are using. (7 US, 7 18 UK, etc.) Some Canadian manufacturers use UK sizes, some use US sizes. We recommend that you measure your head and express your size as a measurement, not a hat size.

Will you automatically send me the size test bands to try on to make certain I have my size correct?

Yes. When you place your order, you are charged $110 for shipping ($105 to Canada). That includes Express Mail International shipping of the size test bands and Express Mail International shipping of your hat. The bands must be returned, so you will have an additional postage cost to return the bands to paradise. They are absolutely worth the cost. They are that important. It’s your hat. This is all about you.

How do you ship the hats?

The normal choice for international shipping is Express Mail International.


The cost is much lower than UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.

What is the cost?

The normal International Shipping & Handling charge for a hat with a regular width brim (under 3.5 inches) is $65. That includes Express Mail International shipping, preparation of required international documents, special packing and shipping materials. Charges for wider brim hats in larger boxes are $70. If actual shipping charges by the USPS are higher than expected to your country, the additional cost will be added to your purchase. (The cost to ship with the other carriers is generally between $150 and $250 for a hat with a regular width brim.)

What about customs duties and taxes?

All import duties and taxes are the responsibility of the client.

How long does the shipping take?

That depends somewhat on what country you are in. From the US West Coast, shipping time to Australia and Japan is sometimes less than to Europe. As a general rule, the hats move very quickly to the entry point of the foreign country. Time required to process and permit entry of a package varies from one country to another, and I believe from one day to another within the same country. You should plan for at least a week, two would be wiser. If it takes longer than three weeks, something is probably wrong and we should start a search.

What if I have to return the hat?

If the reason for the return is due to an error on our part, we will reimburse you for the cost of the return shipping, and we will not charge you to re-ship your hat after the error has been corrected. Otherwise, all shipping costs are the responsibility of the client. So be careful to give us the correct size in the beginning.

Can you ship my hat to a hotel where I will be on vacation?

Yes, of course. But remember that shipping and delivery time are variable and difficult to predict. If you will be staying in the hotel for only two or three days, then it would be better to receive your hat at home before you leave. If you will be at the location for a week or two, place your order well in advance, and advise the hotel to watch for the package and to accept it, then we probably could make it work. If you will be staying in a resort hotel in Hawaii or elsewhere in the US, then a timely delivery should be relatively easy.

The Panama Hat Company of the Pacific dba Brent Black Panama Hats 1314 Center Dr., Suite B-448 Medford, OR 97501 There is no retail store at this address. (more) Toll Free: (888) 658-6500 Phone: (541) 201-3113

Text and photos © 1988-2022, B. Brent Black. All rights reserved.

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111 Hekili Street, Suite A-293; Kailua, HI 96734 Ph: (888) 658-6500 Fax: (808) 262-7725