Why is it called Panama Hat?
You are probably now wondering: If these hats are made in Ecuador, Why are they called Panama Hats?
Here is why...
In the early 19th century, the idea of building a canal that connected the east and the west was conceived.
On January 1 1881 the construction of the canal began. France took charge of the massive project, lead by Ferdinand de Lesseps. However, on May 4 1904 the United States took control of the project. U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt believed that taking control of the Canal was of strategic interest of the USA.
Once president Roosevelt visit the Canal, he saw that the workers and engineers wore some really nice hats and he got a hold of some nice pieces. At that time, during the construction of the Canal, Panama was the narrowest point between the East and the West and most commerce transit through there.
Ecuador exported the hats to Panama, and from there, the hats were shipped overseas worldwide.
In 1906, the New York Times, wrote an article on the canal and a picture of president Roosevelt holding a "Panama Hat" was published. That article was read all over the world and gave the international name of "Panama Hat" to the Ecuadorian "Sombrero de Paja Toquilla".
Theodore Roosevelt holding his "Panama Hat" during a NYC parade in 1906.