Up until about forty years ago, hats were a staple of every man's daily wardrobe. I'm not talking about baseball caps, I'm talking about honest to goodness hats like fedoras, bowlers, flat caps and the like. Watch any movie from the 40's or 50's and everyone is wearing hats. Around the end of the 1960's when the counterculture movement was in full bloom, hats were viewed as accouterments of the previous generation to be rejected along with all other totems of conformity. And so a long fallow period ensued for any type of headwear other than a baseball cap or knit cap. Since the turn of the century though, hats have been making their way back into the fold, and Goorin Bros. has been at the forefront. Lapstone & Hammer is thrilled to introduce one of our newest brand partners: Goorin Bros.
In 1895 artist and craftsman Cassel Goorin started creating custom-made hats which he sold off of the horse cart he rode through the hard-stone streets of Pittsburgh. He began each of his distinctive hats on custom wooden hat-blocks, each block having its own soul, its own personality. Every person who approached Cassel's horse cart was treated as a guest. Adding the right feather, sewing the right lining, and often changing the block or pattern entirely, he set out to make each hat as individual as the customer purchasing it. Cassel moved from a cart on the street to a shop on the corner and taught his two sons, Alfred and Ted, the art and business of his trade. When they eventually took over the business in 1921, they rechristened it the Goorin Brothers Company.
In the ensuing years the hat business boomed. The brothers used their father's technique and designs to create unique versions of every type of hat in straw, wool, cotton, felt, and any other material or style that their customers demanded. In 1949 Alfred moved the company headquarters to San Francisco and turned Goorin Bros. into a national brand, leading to not only increased sales and recognition, but a slot as the official headwear of the 1960 Winter Olympics.
As the 60's wore on, hats wore out, as a new generation adopted a less formal manner of dress. The neighborhood hat store, once a staple of every American town, was rapidly disappearing. Goorin Brothers, once a booming business, was now on the ropes. But just like the Earth itself, everything comes full circle. At the dawning of the new millennium the heir to the Goorin legacy recognized the opportunity to reignite interest in his family's hats, positioning them as a mark of style, status, and personality.
Ben Goorin, the fourth generation to lead the family business, noticed an increased visibility of traditional hats, especially on the heads of musicians, entertainers, and other style influencers. Seizing upon this sartorial shift, Ben brought back Cassel's secret recipes from the company archives and added some modern twists, and reestablished Goorin Bros. hats as the leading name in authenticity and creativity. Now it is not uncommon to see luminaries like Carmello Anthony, John Legend, or even Christina Hendricks wearing Goorin Bros. hats. Their most famous customer might actually be a fictional character, as Goorin Bros. designed the iconic "Heisenberg" hat worn by Walter White in "Breaking Bad".
After 120 years in business, the company remains focused on bringing back the sense of community and personal interaction inherent in their business from the days of Cassel's horse cart, through the ubiquitous shops of the mid-century golden years, to the present day, where Goorin Bros has begun to re-introduce the neighborhood hat shop back into society with over 30 shops in the U.S. and Canada. Lapstone & Hammer is proud to carry a selection of fine, American made hats by a company as rich in history and personality as Goorin Bros.