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.