West­ern Mak­ers

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS -

In 2015, Alexan­der West­wood was in the

Air Force and trav­el­ing in uni­form through an air­port when a man thanked him for his ser­vice and of­fered to buy him a drink. After a drink and a chat, the man handed West­wood his card, which showed he owned a hat com­pany. The card went in a desk, but an im­pres­sion was made. Years later, when his ser­vice in the Air Force was up, West­wood found the card and or­dered a hat. “It was beau­ti­ful. It was this hand-made cow­boy hat, and it sucked me into this world,” West­wood says.

Since that epiphany, he has started his own hat com­pany, Alexan­der West­wood, which has be­come a prom­i­nent new brand in the area of vin­tage-in­spired, hand-crafted cow­boy hats. The slo­gan on his web­site ex­plains it per­fectly: “Cus­tom built hats. Made in Cal­i­for­nia. Tall crowns and big brims only.”

West­wood works out of his home in Los

Angeles, where he takes mea­sure­ments for new cus­tomers and makes the hats out of the “finest heavy­weight hare/beaver fur felts us­ing an­tique tools and con­sciously sourced ma­te­ri­als which are cut, sewn, as­sem­bled and fin­ished by hand.” Born into a mil­i­tary fam­ily that lived in South Korea and Ger­many, West­wood was never ex­posed to West­ern cul­ture ex­cept on the only Amer­i­can TV channel that was avail­able on mil­i­tary bases over­seas. But those early peeks into the West­ern way had a pro­found im­pact on him. “The West was never part of my life, but what I was watch­ing shaped my per­cep­tion of the West, which seemed very ro­man­tic,” he says.

When he com­mit­ted to be be­come a hat­maker, he did so with no for­mal train­ing or guid­ance. He gleaned what he could from old li­brary books and from other hand-made hats he could re­verse engi­neer. It was in this learn­ing phase that his own style be­gan to de­velop. “Hats are prac­ti­cal, and I think of my hats for the work­ing man. I’m less in­ter­ested in trendy hats with crazy col­ors that some­one can wear to Coachella for the week­end,” he says. “Peo­ple who buy my hats tend to wear hats of­ten and they want to make a very spe­cific fash­ion state­ment with them.”

West­wood does fit­tings for his hats at his home and stu­dio, but also works with buy­ers who can’t make the trek to Los Angeles for a fit­ting. His hats gen­er­ally start at around $450, and each one is cus­tom-made for the buyer. For more in­for­ma­tion about Alexan­der West­wood hats, visit www.alexan­der­west­wood.com or visit @alexan­der­west­wood on In­sta­gram.

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