Harry 'Hoxton' — founder of this British cap brand in 2016 — is from a family whose ties to the British hat making industry were first tied in this East London neighbourhood. Because it was from here, during WWII, that his grandfather evacuated bomb-plagued London and eventually ended up in Luton, about 50 km North of the British capital.
At this time, Luton was the capital of British hatmaking. In the years leading up to the war, no fewer than 70 million hats were produced in this town of fewer than 100,000 people. Every single year.
After the war, Harry Hoxton's grandfather stayed on and found work as a hat blocker. His own father — Harry Hoxton's great-grandfather — was also working as a hat turner after the family relocated to the area when the war ended. Out of strife, an industrious family tradition had been born.
Fast forward to the present day, and Harry Hoxton has found a way to tip his cap to his roots and return to the industry of British hat making with a range of classic caps.
The baker boy, flat cap and duckbill have nothing to do with an occupation, or a squashed hat, and there are no ducks involved. These are in fact names given to particular styles of hats, one of them, the flat cap, first making its appearance as far back as the 1300s.
The archetypal flat cap has long been associated with the British and Irish working class as it was initially worn by workers toiling outdoors to keep their heads warm. It was later adopted by the Sicilian Mafia, worn slightly askew to indicate their affiliation.
Oddly enough, the baker boy — or newsboy cap as it is better known in the US — also has its own sinister connections and has experienced a surge in popularity due to the Bafta-winning British television crime drama Peaky Blinders.
The gang leader and protagonist Tommy Shelby wears this classic style throughout the series, and in real life it was often worn by the Birmingham gangs of the 1890’s that the series takes its name from.
Trading since 1914
Hoxton Blocks works with a factory who has been in the hat making trade since 1914 and offers these classic styles, and others in a selection of premium materials to suit all tastes and climates.
The factory is based in Luton which is still an epicentre for the hat making industry and another nod to Harry’s past.
Harris Tweed features heavily in the collection and is the unique result of age-old traditions and the skill of its weavers, combined with natural dyeing techniques.
It is the only fabric to be protected by an Act of Parliament which states that the weaving of Harris Tweed may only be carried out within the homes of the islanders in the Outer Hebrides. The mix and intensity of colours found in these high quality fabrics is hard to rival.
It's a long way from the Scottish Hebrides to the lesser known Kutch district of Gujarat in western India where Hoxton Blocks sources its Desi wool. This is another rare artisanal fabric woven from hand-spun yarn on traditional pit looms giving it a distinctive irregular texture, similar to linen.
For the cooler months Japanese linen has been selected for one style: The James in 3 neutral tones. Known for its light and crisp texture, as well as its quick absorption of moisture and fast drying action, linen is ideal for warmer climates as well as being durable, often lasting decades.
Harry 'Hoxton's' grandfather's origins and job have clearly influenced the catchy brand name, and inspired a collection of statement caps in a medley of distinguished fabrics.